Proposal for a 28th Amendment? Is it Possible to Amend an Unequal System?

collaboration with Alex Strada (in progress)


 A Participatory installation that consists of sonic soapbox sculptures, six videos, a recording booth, and five stitched canvas banners that pose the project’s questions in Spanish, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Bengali, and English (dominant languages spoken in Corona, Queens). Commissioned by the Queens Museum.


Proposal for a 28th Amendment? Is it Possible to Amend an Unequal System is made in collaboration with Alex Strada. In this multi-media work, we ask visitors to critically engage with the U.S. Constitution and pose two questions: What 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution would you propose? And: Do you think it is possible to amend an unequal system?

Central to the installation are sonic soapbox sculptures that build upon the history of the soapbox as a site of collective struggle, while also emphasizing listening, mutuality, and access. These objects emit an in-progress oral archive of responses to the project’s questions that have been recorded by visitors and will accrue over the course of the exhibition. Visitors are invited to engage by listening and by using the recording booth to add to this work.

The installation is activated through a series of public workshops we have planned with Year of Uncertainty community partners and legal scholars from the CUNY law school. These gatherings bring people together to collectively consider, question, and debate systemic repair, radical change, and abolition to radically imagine more equitable futures.  More information about the project can be found here at the Queens Museum Website. And, here you can listen to a call-in segment on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show.



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Exhibition walkthrough documentation
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TALI KEREN

Tali Keren

UN-CHARTING, 2021-Ongoing 





Un-Charting, 2021-ongoing. 180-degree curved screen with 3D animation. Still from 20 minutes 4k video. Installation view.



Un-Charting , 2021- . 180-degree curved screen with 3D animation. Still from 20 minutes 4k video. 

Un-Charting , 2021-Ongoing. A 180-degree curved screen with 3D animation. Still from 20 minutes 4k video.


Un-Charting , 2021-Ongoing. A 180-degree curved screen with 3D animation. Still from 20 minutes 4k video. 




5 meter x 3 meter floor vinyl reproduction of an 18th-century drawing by Richard Brothers. Inkjet laser print. Installation view of the exhibition entrance.



Detail fromfloor vinyl reproduction of an 18th-century drawing by Richard Brothers. Inkjet laser print.

UN-CHARTING - Project Description

 

Anchored in historical research and incorporating documentary interviews, Un-Charting examines imperial myths and fantasies that have shaped and allowed for colonial expansion, institutional violence, and indigenous Palestinian erasure in Israel/Palestine. This piece researches the deep connections between Western Evangelical Protestantism and Zionism, and their shared political theology.

At the heart of Un-Charting is a video installation set up as an immersive gaming simulator. The narrative of the projected video is based on the real words of British colonial naval officer Richard Brothers. Brothers, who comes to us from the year 1798, welcomes the viewer to discover his prophecy for the Holy Land. Brothers introduces the viewer to his plan for the city of Jerusalem, a place he imagined in detail but had never visited. Brothers’ plan, created while he was hospitalized for a mental illness, expands beyond historical Palestine into Persia and Europe.In Un-Charting, Keren edits together segments of Brothers’ imperial hallucinations and considers them in light of American Evangelical political theology and the historical specificity Israel/Palestine, weaving his words in with contemporay interviews and footage. 

Through this layering of trans-national sources, archival documents, science fiction aesthetics, gaming animation and documentary material, Un-Charting aims to offer a platform for reflection on the processes of decolonization within a global framework. Unpacking the real-life consequences for how one understands landscape legacies, the work invites viewers to disrupt the cartography of place-based myth.


Un-Charting is the third chapter of a trilogy which includes, The Great Seal, 2016-2018, and Heat Signature, 2018.
Un-Charting will be shown in its completed iteration at the James Gallery, CUNY Graduate Center in 2023.

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Un-Charting, 2021-ongoing
A film by Tali Keren

Director of Animation: Ayelet Shoval
Script Development: Tali Keren and Nir Shauloff
Dramaturgy: Nir Shauloff
Voice Actress: Lottie Beck Johnson
Lead Animator and 3D modeling: Ayelet Shoval
Supporting Animators: Riccardo Zagorodnev and Aviel Golan.
Production: Aviel Golan
Sound Design and Mix Engineer: Micha Gilad
Compositing: Ayelet Shoval, Omri Schick, Riccardo Zagorodnev




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Heat Signature, 2018



Live Video Feed, FLIR FCR thermal camera, industrial heaters, audio video cables, drop ceiling, mics, PC computer

Heat Signature

Heat Signature is a culmination of Tali Keren’s ongoing research into Judeo-Christian ideology and the military-industrial complex. Juxtaposing a design for the Great Seal of the United States unsuccessfully proposed to Congress by Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin in 1776 with a FLIR thermal camera, Keren underscores the inherent relations between American national myths, religious belief, and the quest for power and control.

The recreation and manipulation of Jefferson and Franklin’s rejected design—which depicts the biblical story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, with America serving as the ‘New Zion’—through a heat-based performative sculpture, allows Keren to explore the effects of thermal surveillance methods on bodies and mediascapes. These conjured imageries lie at the heart of the exhibition. Jefferson and Franklin’s phantasmic vision is brought to life with an infrared camera and electric heaters. Temperature shifts translate into focus shifts in the monochromatic live video feed, as the heaters turn on and off and the image of the Seal, which is embedded in the ceiling—unseen to the eye—heats and cools. Yet, it is in the constant appearance and disappearance of the projected image, in the tension between the visible and the invisible, that the viewer is asked to ponder the relation between militarized media perception and the meaning of ‘temperature seeing’—even as their own body heat is registered by the thermal camera. In Heat Signature, Keren turns the FC-R camera, designed to make human body heat visible, away from the viewers, whose collective temperature alters the background hue of the live-projected image of the Seal.

Testimonies by a drone sensor operator, a criminal defense attorney and a media scholar, voices reflecting on the new temperature-based visual regime, are presented by Keren in three audio-recorded interviews.


 





The Great Seal, 2016-2018






Interactive installation/performance. Teleprompters, microphone, touch screen, speakers, 12x12 feet custom printed rug, HD video, HD monitors, 20 minute experience. Video documentation (3 min)


The Great Seal


The Great Seal, (2016-2018)

The Great Seal is an immersive installation that investigates the intersection between art, propaganda, religion, and politics. The piece invites viewers to step on an imagined political arena and take on the role of the keynote speakers at the annual Washington D.C. Summit of Christians United for Israel (CUFI). CUFI galvanizes millions of American Evangelical conservatives who consider Jewish rule over the land of Israel/Palestine a precondition for Christ’s second coming.  In this scenario the Jewish State will play a key role in the imminent battle of the End Times. By employing the visual and ritualistic conventions of a presidential teleprompter and a karaoke ‘sing-along’, participants-turned-demagogues are invited to perform speeches derived from those of American and Israeli politicians and clergymen who spoke at the CUFI summits. While the form is playful and immersive, the format of the work foregrounds the disturbing seductiveness of ethno-national populism. 

Throughout the interactive performance, visitors stand on a rug emblazoned with the design for the original Great Seal of the United States, first proposed by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson in 1776, and subsequently rejected by Congress. Franklin and Jefferson’s Great Seal reimagines the biblical story of the Israelites exodus from Egypt with America framed as the ‘New Zion’. The settler-colonial myths linking the United States and Israel are thus embodied in the seal.


*The Great Seal is the first chapter in a trilogy which critically examines the myth of the Judeo-Christian tradition.



The Great Seal, activated by artist/performer Reverend Billy Talen, Eyebeam NY





Save the Presidents, 2017


Collaboration with Alex Strada

Save the Presidents, 2017. 4k video, 13 min.  

Save the Presidents is a film that focuses on the deterioration of 43 giant stone busts of former American Presidents, situated in a field in rural Virginia. The busts had belonged to a sculpture park which closed in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis. A local farmer and entrepreneur was hired to destroy the busts after the park’s closing. He decided instead to preserve them, moving the sculptures onto his own property and worksite. During their transport and over time, the busts have eroded.

The film details the decaying materiality of the figures, such as the cracks in their faces and the discoloration of their white stone. Structured over the course of a day, the work begins with the presidents sitting drenched in morning sunlight as manual laborers arrive to the field for work. As the light wanes and the laborers leave, the presidents are left alone to watch the sunset fade to black. The film explores the promise and instability of political representation and mythology, while raising questions about depictions of democracy, whiteness, and gender.


Save The Presidents, Times Square, 2018


Every evening throughout February 2018, Save the Presidents took over the screens of Times Square at midnight as part of Times Square Arts’ Midnight Moment. The film transformed the Morgan Stanley Building, NASDAQ Tower, Microsoft Cube, and over 50 other branded screens in this quintessential cross-section of late capitalism. In this setting, the work functioned as a counter-monument, where it temporarily interrupted and re-contextualized Times Square’s stream of advertising with images of decaying leaders from the past. 

Fictive witness, 2018 - 2019


Fictive Witness is a series of lecture-performances that was commissioned by and took place at the Goethe-Institut throughout 2018. For each performance, Alex Strada and I collaborated with a different scholar who intervened within Save the Presidents by presenting a layer of narration to the silent film. Structured over the course of a day, the film centers on a field of eroding presidential monuments situated in rural Virginia. Save the Presidents was re-edited to mirror the length of each lecture so that as the sun sets on the screen, the performance concluded. Each scholar unpacked a distinct socio-political theme that lives beneath the film’s surface, reshaping its content through context. Throughout the course of the series, the same material was plumbed and reconfigured to engage with ideas ranging from property rights, ethical feminism, to branding. The performances were followed by talk-backs.


Commissioned by and performed at the Goethe-Institut, New York City


“Branding the Dream: Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and the Meanings of America”
4 minute HD video clip from 1 hour and thirty minute performance. February 13, 2018

Lecture-performance and collaboration between artists Tali Keren & Alex Strada and legal scholar Kendall Thomas.
Legal scholar Law Kendall Thomas’ lecture-performance “Branding the Dream: Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and the Meanings of America”, focused on U.S. cultural and political powers of the “imaginary” American presidency. Drawing inspiration from the visual landscape of Save the Presidents, Thomas’ performance used words, music, and an eclectic range of references (from the 18th century German art historian and archeologist Johann Joachim Winckelmann to Beyoncé) to stage an encounter between two presidencies and between two conflicting and convergent visions of the American Dream.



“On the Imaginary Domain, Or Who Gets to Be a Person?”
Lecture-performance and collaboration between artists Tali Keren & Alex Strada and political philosopher Drucilla Cornell 

Still camera documentation of 1 hour and thirty minute performance
Commissioned by and performed at the Goethe-Institut, New York City, November 27, 2018

For “On the Imaginary Domain, Or Who Gets to Be a Person?” philosopher Drucilla Cornell unpacked her notion of ethical feminism as a theoretical concept and political strategy. Cornell’s performance centered on labor, gender politics in the workplace, and the right of each person to identify in their own way. Cornell’s lecture served as a kind of contrast to the content of the film — pointing to the absence of women within the limeage if presidents who conceived of and were employed to shape American national identity throughout its history.




“Dead Presidents: A Lexicon of Land, Race and Nation”
Lecture-performance and collaboration between artists Tali Keren & Alex Strada and architectural theorist Mabel Wilson

Still camera documentation of 1 hour and thirty minute performance
Commissioned by and performed at the Goethe-Institut, New York City, October 24, 2018

Architectural theorist Mabel Wilson’s lecture-performance, “Dead Presidents: A Lexicon of Land, Race and Nation” centered on a series of alphabetical entries relating to property and personhood within American ideology. As the film screened, Wilson presented a racialized history of the way in which the American landscape was cultivated, specifically referring to the use of enslaved labor to build national monuments that purport to embody “freedom”.