Interactive installation in which the gallery transforms into the Big Lawn (הדשא הגדול)—a prominent feature of the Kibbutz Movement’s landscape architecture. Visitors to the gallery can take photos of themselves inside large dioramas, similar to dioramas in history museums, or to backdrops common to early nineteenth-century photography studios. These dioramas depict utopian scenes taken from the Kibbutzims’ Rosh Hashanah cards in circulation mostly from the 1960’s to the 1980’s.
When the Kibbutz Movement was at its peak power, Kibbutzim Rosh Hashana cards were issued as a PR enterprise. Those cards’ compositions were commonly two-thirds blue and green, with central motifs such as new communal buildings made by the best architects, large swimming pools, children playing on the lawn, bountiful fields, water, and sky. They were an attempt to present a constructed garden of Eden, an ever-green utopian environment, clean and pure. The tradition came to an end at the end of the 1980’s, coinciding with crisis within the Kibbutz Movement, as well as changes in the cultural practices of Israeli society.
The dioramas in the gallery reconstruct those utopian scenes. They are made of large backdrops, featuring some of the common themes in those cards, as well as fake and real plants, trees with candy hanged from them, and props in the foreground. Next to the dioramas are clothes hangers with random costumes and props that gallery visitors use when taking pictures. These dioramas are like “stages” where people can “reenact” situations, real or fantastic, and document them with a camera.
Whether with a brush, with a camera, or with a smartphone, people throughout history have created self-portraits. Just like those Rosh Hashana cards that were used to establish a controlled image of the Kibbutz, self-portraits allow us to actively control the image we project of ourselves, thus influencing people’s perception of us. The dioramas in the gallery give the public an opportunity to take images of themselves against a backdrop of the nostalgic, heaven-on-earth image that the Kibbutz Movement so eloquently created and advertised. Visitors enter the space that is both imaginary and real, and are free to express themselves within it as they see fit.
Participants: members of Kibbutz Hatzor