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A filmic quest into a desert city Arad in Israel and into its history, inspired by Amos Oz’s novel “Don’t Call It Night” that was written at a time in which he lived in Arad. Planted between the lines of the book that describe the desolate city, are clues to the real reasons for which the city was founded. The film, a personal interpretation of the book, carefully selects words from the book that are read out loud and granted full meaning via body language, performance and dance. In the background of the narrating voice and the choreography lay the sounds and sites of the city - its murmurs and its desert fog. while street voice’s, wind and desert mist are in background. The film culminates with a choreography of Arad’s young girls dancing to the chords of “On the Way to the Light” performed, with great hope and optimism, by the city’s older generation that founded the city. Text: HADAS KEDAR Since the establishment of Arad, a radical mid-20th century planning project, the city has drawn to it the very best intellectuals and artists. Orit Ishay participated in the "Arad – Art and Architecture" artists residency program, in order to carry out an art project centered on mapping the ties between the people and their place. Throughout a series of meetings Ishay held, a decision was made to formulate an artistic action in collaboration with local residents of all ages, from youth to pensioners. Ishay had long been familiar with the writings of Amos Oz, the author who has lived and written about the city for many years. On her arrival to Arad, she reread Don't Call It Night, written 21 years prior, thus providing the title of the work. The city that served as fertile ground for utopian-modernist experimentation, tempted Ishay to embark on her own artistic-social venture – an approach becoming increasingly significant in her work. Oz's text constituted a kind of compass as Ishay pursued various elements that appear in the book: broad boulevards, mailboxes and gardens, concrete structures, train stations. This encounter with such literary elements motivated a collaboration with residents to construe the reasons for the city's founding, proposing an interpretation for the social fabric created within it. Ishay chose to refine the question of how and why a place is conceived by selecting an array of words from Oz's book, a kind of personalized glossary of the city. Processing and refining Oz's book into an arrangement of words produced the score of "Oz 21". Ishay chose to address the words as sheet music. The words are recited by a local girl in a monotonous voice with no particular inflections or pitch. They echoing words of the soundtrack, capture the psychosocial atmosphere of the city's founding years. The mechanical reading is reminiscent of devices designed to artificially simulate the human voice, TTS (text-to-speech) synthesizers that convert text into spoken voice output by drawing from a pre-recorded speech corpus. The robotic "Oz 21" soundtrack brings to mind science fiction films which emphasize the emotion and nuances of interpersonal communication that cannot be simulated by a machine or robot. By extracting words from their semantic context, by having them recited by a girl as individual units of meaning, Ishay highlights the alienation inherent in the "cut-and-paste" approach. She ties between the structure of words, discrete units with stand-alone capabilities, to the minimalist architectural gestures of creating a 'Pop Up city' in the desert. Whether words or buildings, the disassociation of units from their organic connection, however perfectly implanted elsewhere, will always provoke a sense of alienation. Throughout her search for locations, Oz's compass directed her to modernist utopian buildings that in time seem to be fragments of a dystopian dream. Ishay found particular interest in social-architectural projects from the mid-sixties in the city center. Her gaze caught the series of brutalist gardens spanning the length of Avishur- one of Arad's oldest neighborhoods. The gardens were designed by the architectural team that established the city, along with landscape architect Zvi Dekel. The brutalist style, originating from Le Corbusier's use of the term brut (raw(, was first applied in the '60s and '70s in the Israeli Negev due to the urgent need to establish development towns. While similar brutalist gardens may be found in various cities across Europe, Arad's gardens are unique in their use of a visual lexicon of warfare and defense. The low concrete walls create a solid labyrinth that appears as a miniaturized version of a fortified city. The sculptural elements, taken from ancient history, remind us that in the Late Bronze Age Arad was one of the first cities to boast planned streets, a government, and defensible walls. The site chosen by Ishay for the first video segment of "Oz 21" is one of a series of brutalist gardens, that served evidence that modernism dealt not only with planning public buildings and housing, but also with the design of social-community spaces. Beyond its significance as an aesthetic landmark, the public garden is essentially a meeting ground for neighborhood residents. The social-collective aspect of the work was accomplished with a local choreographer. Together, the two instructed a group of local dance students on the array of movements and sounds in the piece. The dancers immersed themselves in the city's history and were exposed to collective practices. They executed a range of vocal and physical gestures in the midst of a brutalist garden. In this utopian/dystopian environment, their movements lay bare the tension between the feminine body and the angular and substantial concrete forms. Dressed in identical uniforms, they moved among the garden structures, accentuating the garden's minimalism, militaristic, and surrounding wall. The site chosen by Ishay for the second segment of the video work is also a place of power and remains, where a sculpture by Yaacov Dorchin previously stood, a huge cast bronze lion overlooking the Dead Sea. It was cut into pieces and stolen, leaving behind a vast structure that served as its foundation. Ishay focused on the dramatic juxtaposition of the minimal geometry of the platform and the muted textures beyond it. The same dancers also appear in this second segment, but this time the choreography of their movements seems softer. The initial soundtrack, based on Oz's book, is replaced here by a nostalgic song from the days of Israel's establishment, performed by the Arad City Choir. The female silhouettes of the dancers, accompanied by the voices of the country's founding generation, enhance the empowerment of the human form against the primordial desert landscape. Without foreknowledge of the stolen statue, the huge base may seem like a spaceship landed on site. The early morning mist, rising at times during the shoot to obscure and even hide the dancers, also contributes to the dreamy sensation in the second part of the work. "Oz 21" is a work that deals in the dialectic relations of the city's planners and residents with the city's past and present. If the term "adaptation" refers to the way in which humans, animals, and plants adapt to their environment, then Ishay's method of adapting Amos Oz's book demonstrates an adaptation of the very early days of the city's founding to its current day. Ishay positions the new generation of Arad within buildings dating to its establishment. The regimented movements of the dancers exhibit the restraint they must demonstrate when placed in the context of the founding fathers of the city. It seems the compliance of the young generation is the outcome of the founding generation's assessing gaze (their voices heard in the second half of the work). "Oz 21" is Ishay's personal interpretation of the city's establishment. The work takes in the collective voice of Arad's residents at a significant moment where three generations inhabit the city shoulder to shoulder. Linking the generational voices – tying together the grand but unrealistic past to the current generation, unsure of its ability to address this modernist-Zionist

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