Emi Sfard, In the Eyes of the Beholding Goat

This is how it once was…. Many years ago the Land of Israel was a desert teeming with black goats. The people who came from the green landscapes of Europe to settle this land did not find what they envisaged as a land flowing with milk and honey that had been promised them from ancient times. They set out on a mission to repair the landscape: They planted forests to change the climate and to establish a new geopolitical reality. In parallel, they looked for those to blame for creating the wilderness. The black goats that ate everything in their paths were the immediate suspects, leading to legislation of the Black Goat Act in 1950. Even though these goats were the primary source of income and sustenance for the local population, this law prohibited raising black goats within the state of Israel and they were exiled to Lebanon or slaughtered. As the years went by, the ecological importance of these goats became clear, as did the problems of planting nonindigenous trees. These goats that ate everything helped clean the soil by weeding out thorns and dry undergrowth, thus helping prevent fires. In 2010 during the deadly forest fire on Mount Carmel known as the Carmel Disaster, the law was repealed and a recommendation was made to raise flocks of goats adjacent to forests. 

In a unique work of art, artist Emi Sfard invites viewers to put on masks designed as goat heads, thus offering them an immersive experience of reality layered with a visual language influenced by/borrowed from fairytales and proverbs. The story of the black goats is illustrated and animated against photographs of the landscapes of the Land of Israel from the early 19th century, before the land was developed and built up, when it more closely resembled what Marcel Janco saw upon his arrival. The artworks, which permeate the museum’s permanent exhibition space, are constructed in the form of a biblical proverb that refers to the Black Goat Law.

The work operates on two planes: the performance and the content. The first plane faces outward. The viewer wearing the mask becomes the protagonist – the main actor in the story. The other viewers then behold a surrealistic performance of goats with human bodies that have invaded and move through the exhibitions spaces. The second plane is pointed inward. Despite being taken from reality, the story of the black goats as projected through the masks serves as an allegory demonstrating various occurrences in the Land of Israel.

Nitsan Shuval Abiri

Project Curator


שעות פתיחה:

שני עד שישי 11:00-14:00

שבת 11:00-15:00


מוזיאון ינקו–דאדא, כפר האמנים עין הוד, ד“נ חוף הכרמל 3089000

טלפון: 04-9842350  (מענה 24 שעות)
פקס : 04-9843152