Walking on Dry Land

Rotem Reshef

Walking on Dry Land

Rotem Reshef’s work of recent years creates a political and social commentary via immersive
installations and paintings that relate to society’s effect on climate change and its relations to
the private and public environments, while embracing methods and ideas of “Tikkun” (a Jewish
term aiming to heal social wrong-doings) and Ecofeminism.
Reshef uses waste vegetation (branches, petals, ferns, leaves etc.), collected in the streets,
parks and elsewhere in the urban surroundings, and imprints these “relics” onto her canvases,
in a technique that resembles photograms. By creating fossil-like ghostly compositions that
range from abstraction to figuration, Reshef’s work alludes to forms of life that existed in the
world and had been neglected or thrown away, but that get “a second chance” via her artistic
practice. Reshef offers an option for healing and recovery to “dead” and neglected organic
materials, and indirectly to our world of mass consumption and the chase after the “next best
Created at a time of a growing awareness of ecological shifts and climate disasters, Reshef’s
paintings ponder on the idea of a human presence that offers healing to nature, instead of
exploiting it for personal gain and capitalist systems. In the spirit of Ecofeminism, reacting to a
world that has suffered greatly from male-dominated industries that had excavated and
damaged entire natural areas for centuries, Reshef is suggesting a more compassionate
approach of coexistence with nature, out of respect and acknowledgment of its importance for
centuries to come. Through her artistic practice, Reshef wishes to bring optimism and stability,
and to address longevity, historical perspectives and the power of nourishment and life.

“Walking on Dry Land”, Reshef’s current solo exhibition at the Laurie M. Tisch gallery in New
York, is offering a haven from the bustling city. This painterly environment is created by two
islands of color and texture. While suggesting a site of refuge, the site-specific installation
presents a dual perspective of an inner world mirroring an exterior landscape, arresting in time
the cycle of seasons. Reshef’s practice suggests that painting can shift modes, expand and
modify our perception, like a story unfolding. Reshef’s work alludes to a long history of drifting
and wandering—of her own, her family’s, and all of us who navigate a world of shifting
restrictions—the closing and opening of borders and global migration. Movement through the
space may allude to the crossing of the Red Sea, as the dry land offered a fantastical path of
rescue and safety, a sudden and unexpected change of events that transformed a catastrophe
into a trail for redemption.

Walking on Dry Land – 14 June – 28 August, 2022

Installation view, “Walking on Dry Land”, Laurie M. Tisch Gallery, New York City. Image by Rich Lee.
Installation view, “Walking on Dry Land”, Laurie M. Tisch Gallery, New York City. Image by Rich Lee.

The outdoor installation “Passage” that is on view at the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History
in Tel Aviv, strives to raise awareness of issues related to interactions between humans and
nature, such as climate change, natural resource exploitation, and the disrupted cycles of the
seasons. It seeks to strengthen our compassion and concern for the surroundings, as a
corrective and healing response to environmental destruction. These ideas are planted in the
installation as abstract graphic experiences that embody different types of personal, family, and
collective memories. In creating the installation, Reshef used prunings from the botanical
gardens and urban landscape of Tel Aviv – branches and leaves that were cut out from the
circle of life. This waste turned into “treasure”, and now tells a new story through the “corrective”
practice of art, which takes the dead and breathes a new spirit into it. Thus, the artistic garden
echoes the nearby physical garden.

Passage – 28 June, 2022 – 23 December, 2023

Installation view, “Passage”, The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv. Image by Avi Amsalem.

Main Photo: The artist in her studio. Image by Eyal Toueg

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