To most there exists a fine line between reality and performance, but to Gil and Moti, life is art. Visual artists Gil and Moti are not only life partners, but also manneristic twins, who have been residing at Williams over for the past week. They dress identically daily, wear the same red-framed glasses (although one pair is without a prescription) and both eat left-handed. Their work contributes to the “contemporary debates about being different and the rules of social coexistence” by focusing on gay issues and their Jewish Israeli origins. As stated on their web site, www.gilandmoti.nl, they “express these concerns with vulnerable poetic narratives, suspended between reality and fantasy visualized in a range of images from mundane to highly theatrical.”
In 1994, Gil and Moti decided to live life as a performance, creating freeform works of art that encompasses installation, video, painting, writing, performance and their own lives. In a desire to create art beyond the social limitations of Jerusalem, four years later and in their mid-to-late twenties, Gil and Moti immigrated to Rotterdam to attend the Piet Zwart Institute for painting. Upon their arrival in Holland, they turned their apartment into a gallery space, exhibiting installations and art pieces by other artists as well as their own work. “Gil and Moti Homegallery,” which is an ongoing project, began as a social experiment to test the limitations on de-privatizing their lives while using transparency as a medium of art.
Gil and Moti spoke about their Homegallery as well as their “Gay Wedding Project, 2001” and “The Dating Project, 2003-08” in a discussion last Saturday in Paresky Center. “The Dating Project,” an example of their ongoing attempts to bridge the divide between Jewish Israelis and Arabs, focuses on an Internet search for an Arab lover with whom they could fall in love and who would move in with them. Upon being asked whether their “Dating Gil and Moti” project had extended beyond the line of subversion and into exoticizing Orientalism, they acknowledged that their aim was to uncover the enigmatic culture they, as children, had been taught to mistrust and avoid. However, to them, their project simply involved using the Internet as a means of discovering something that would turn their art into life. The “Gay Wedding Project” involved a performance of their marriage in Rotterdam that was officiated by the mayor and presided on the Queen’s Balcony.
A performance piece featuring the outcome of “The Dating Project,” entitled “Laylah, the Creature Beyond Dreams,” was performed last night in the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance. The artists invited Yossi Gutmann, an Israeli violinist and composer, to perform his “recomposition” of the Israeli national anthem with them.
Their week-long residency, which ends today, was organized by Eva Grudin, professor of art history. After admiring their work at the Kunsthalle in Vienna, Professor Grudin became interested in how their artworks help bridge the divide between Arabs and Israeli Jews through direct and open communication. Along with the culminating performance at the ’62 Center, the plasma screens in Paresky Center were used to run text and images from Gil and Moti projects curated also by Grudin.
Posters of stills and texts from “Available for You, Copenhagen, 2008,” a two-month project in which the artists offered complimentary services to anyone in the Arab community who needed help or assistance in any way, have also been displayed around campus. Gil and Moti found themselves in various situations, ranging from cooking dinner for children to cleaning a private bathroom.
A selection of video and stills from “Available for You” was presented in the Multicultural Center last Sunday. These events have been sponsored by the W. Ford Schumann ’50 Endowment for the Arts, the Dively Committee and the Women and Gender Studies department along with numerous college academic and administrative departments.
Gil and Moti embody what Grudin has referred to as “one word, two identities fused into one.” They are a performance team, a couple who spends 24 hours a day together, sharing an agenda. For Gil and Moti, a few differences may yet remain – as Gil revealed, “Well, Moti carries our wallet and I carry our mobile.