Decolonized Skies

About the Civilian Aerial View

The exhibition Decolonized Skies examines the possibility of expropriating the aerial view from those in power (the military, the state, and large corporations), so that the knowledge produced via aerial photography for instance, will serve for the benefit of the citizens rather than used against them. This process of democratizing the view from above is currently the focus of many artists, scholars and activists, particularly in light of the growing use of digital mapping systems on the one hand, and the intensive use of military drones for surveillance and attack on the other hand. This process carries a direct and secondary impact on all of us, and the exhibition presents some of the most interesting projects conducted in this field in recent years by leading Israeli and international artists. With that, Decolonized Skies also addresses the growing trend in contemporary art of collaborations between artists, scientists, and scholars from different disciplines in the aim of finding a visual language that conflates the aesthetic with the ethical.

The works in Decolonized Skies present diverse and unconventional strategies that demonstrate the enormous potential inherent to the demilitarization of view from above. Some of the artists build aerial cameras, others invent new mapping methods, two of the artists build on the platform of Google Earth in order to understand how this new technology influences our life. In addition, the exhibition also includes a historical section that features the original famous photoSan Francisco in Ruins, captured by George Lawrence in 1906. On loan from the Chicago History Museum, this is the first time it is presented in a contemporary art exhibit.

* The exhibition will be accompanied by a diverse public program, featuring: a DIY aerial photography workshop, film screenings, symposium with the artists, and more (dates to be announced).

Earlier versions of the exhibition were held in New York and Barcelona. The first version won first prize out of hundreds of proposals sent in response to an open call of the New York art center Apexart, where it was exhibited in 2014.

About the curators:

Yael Messer and Gilad Reich have been collaborating as the curatorial duo High&Low Bureau since 2011. They displayed exhibition and film programs in some of the most renowned art centers in the world, including the Stedelijke Museum in Amsterdam, Matadero Art Space in Spain, the 13th Istanbul Biennial, and Apexartin New York. In Israel, the two exhibited the show Time/Resistanceat The Digital Art Lab (2013) to rave reviews. The text that they had written based on the research that led to the exhibition Decolonized Skies was published last year in the academic journal Theory and Criticism.

Yael Messer​​ is an independent curator and head of the education department at the CCA in Tel Aviv. She holds a postgraduate diploma in curating from Goldsmith College, London, and participated at De Appel Curatorial Program, Amsterdam. She curated projects and exhibitions in collaboration with the Van Abbe Museum in the Netherlands, The Center for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, and Sommer Contemporary Art Gallery in Tel Aviv.

Gilad Reich is a curator, scholar, and journalist. Previously the head editor of Achbar Hair website, he is currently studying for his doctoral degree in the Art History Department in Tel Aviv, and collaborates with different cultural institutes. His texts are published in magazines, artist’s books, and catalogues in Israel and worldwide.

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  • Effi & Amir, Peter Fend, Hagit Keysar, Miki Kratsman, George R. Lawrence, Ruben Pater

  • Yael Messer & Gilad Reich (High&Low Bureau)

  • Address

    Ben-Zvi Road 55, Tel Aviv

  • Dates

    22.12.2015 – 15.01.2016

  • Opening date


  • Press

    Review on ‘Decolonized Skies’, Gallery, Haaretz

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