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If Not a Selfish Giant, Then at least in his Garden
Public Art and Early Media Archive
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96'00''
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1978
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96 minutes, Super-8mm, asynchronous soundtrack, 1979

This film was created as part of an installation by the same name, which was first exhibited at HaKibbutz Gallery in 1979 (curated by Miriam Tuvia). Garbuz created a frame narrative inspired by the children’s fairytale The Selfish Giant, into which he interspersed a range of scenes that on the one hand represent the personal, and on the other the public and national. The soundtrack combines excerpts from theatre productions, children’s records, songs, and mimicry.

In the film’s opening scene, an accordionist is playing in the streets of London, while a song from a children’s play in Hebrew can be heard in the background. Then, different images appear – a lake with ducks, families riding bicycles in the forest, statues, clowns, various orators, and others – some local, others filmed in Paris and London, places that are not “here”, and clearly represent “there”. This is followed by the first portrait, a fifteen-minute scene featuring the poet Yebi (Yona Ben Yehuda). Later, Garbuz plays a giant who is not heroic, but ridiculous – short, corpulent, and fooling about. He plays on the swings with children wearing tembel hats, tells them stories and sings with them, climbs over walls and peeks through windows, and climbs down from the roof of a hut. Garbuz presents the figure of the artist as an eternal child who is free to fool about, to the extent of wondering whether the artist has lost his mind.

In both the installation and the film, Garbuz incorporated cardboard cutouts of figures: a boy, a girl, a pioneer, a Yemenite, an Arab wearing a keffiyeh, and others.[1] These cutouts function as signifiers of types and roles in the national story. They are clichés to which Garbuz relates ironically, since making them two-dimensional emphasizes the flattening and the absurdity of this simplistic perception of a complex reality.

Four additional portraits of artists are incorporated into the film: Henry Shelesnyak, Menashe Kadishman, Igael Tumarkin, and Yaacov Dorchin. Between them, Garbuz continues the story of the giant, also filming his family, for example sailing in the National Park. There are also images of painters in Montmartre, Paris, with Garbuz himself sitting and painting among them.

Garbuz seeks to ironically examine local myths and clichés of being Israeli, and at the same time, he presents his personal story, his home, his family, and his artistic and cultural milieu. He acts on several layers, and creates an experience composed of speech, poetry, action, and reflective engagement with the image. He creates the figure of an artist who possesses multiple faces and voices, and by means of humor and the absurd, he blurs the boundary between madness and rationality, between fiction and reality, and expresses the rupture in the myths of the Israeli collective and Zionism. The film’s Israeli subject is not heroic, but ridiculous and pathetic; it is not full of itself, but realistic, observing its condition with irony and nostalgia.

 

Written by Yael Gesser

 

[1] Garbuz acquired the remnants of the “Israel Is You” exhibition that was held in 1978 at Tel Aviv’s Exhibition Center to mark Israel’s thirtieth anniversary, and which told the canonical story of the establishment of the State of Israel and the melting pot, and illustrated by means of these paper cutouts.

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 The CDA's archives are operating with the support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund and Artis
 

If Not a Selfish Giant, Then at least in his Garden
Public Art and Early Media Archive

96 minutes, Super-8mm, asynchronous soundtrack, 1979

This film was created as part of an installation by the same name, which was first exhibited at HaKibbutz Gallery in 1979 (curated by Miriam Tuvia). Garbuz created a frame narrative inspired by the children’s fairytale The Selfish Giant, into which he interspersed a range of scenes that on the one hand represent the personal, and on the other the public and national. The soundtrack combines excerpts from theatre productions, children’s records, songs, and mimicry.

In the film’s opening scene, an accordionist is playing in the streets of London, while a song from a children’s play in Hebrew can be heard in the background. Then, different images appear – a lake with ducks, families riding bicycles in the forest, statues, clowns, various orators, and others – some local, others filmed in Paris and London, places that are not “here”, and clearly represent “there”. This is followed by the first portrait, a fifteen-minute scene featuring the poet Yebi (Yona Ben Yehuda). Later, Garbuz plays a giant who is not heroic, but ridiculous – short, corpulent, and fooling about. He plays on the swings with children wearing tembel hats, tells them stories and sings with them, climbs over walls and peeks through windows, and climbs down from the roof of a hut. Garbuz presents the figure of the artist as an eternal child who is free to fool about, to the extent of wondering whether the artist has lost his mind.

In both the installation and the film, Garbuz incorporated cardboard cutouts of figures: a boy, a girl, a pioneer, a Yemenite, an Arab wearing a keffiyeh, and others.[1] These cutouts function as signifiers of types and roles in the national story. They are clichés to which Garbuz relates ironically, since making them two-dimensional emphasizes the flattening and the absurdity of this simplistic perception of a complex reality.

Four additional portraits of artists are incorporated into the film: Henry Shelesnyak, Menashe Kadishman, Igael Tumarkin, and Yaacov Dorchin. Between them, Garbuz continues the story of the giant, also filming his family, for example sailing in the National Park. There are also images of painters in Montmartre, Paris, with Garbuz himself sitting and painting among them.

Garbuz seeks to ironically examine local myths and clichés of being Israeli, and at the same time, he presents his personal story, his home, his family, and his artistic and cultural milieu. He acts on several layers, and creates an experience composed of speech, poetry, action, and reflective engagement with the image. He creates the figure of an artist who possesses multiple faces and voices, and by means of humor and the absurd, he blurs the boundary between madness and rationality, between fiction and reality, and expresses the rupture in the myths of the Israeli collective and Zionism. The film’s Israeli subject is not heroic, but ridiculous and pathetic; it is not full of itself, but realistic, observing its condition with irony and nostalgia.

 

Written by Yael Gesser

 

[1] Garbuz acquired the remnants of the “Israel Is You” exhibition that was held in 1978 at Tel Aviv’s Exhibition Center to mark Israel’s thirtieth anniversary, and which told the canonical story of the establishment of the State of Israel and the melting pot, and illustrated by means of these paper cutouts.

 The CDA's archives are operating with the support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund and Artis
 

 The CDA's archives are operating with the support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund and Artis