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Efrat Natan

Phoenix

UMA LULIK __, Lisboa

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Artist
Efrat Natan
Title
Phoenix
Year
2007
Duration
10 min 1 s
Format & Technical

Single channel, SD video
Colour, no sound, looped
Edition of 5

Phoenix, by Efrat Natan, is a very powerful autobiographical and metaphorical source related to the artist’s childhood in Kibbutz Kfar Ruppin, where she was born in 1947.
As a child, like the other children, Natan was separated very early from her parents. Babies and children used to spend most of their time in the children’s house with their pee, where they lived. However, they would visit their parents every afternoon, then they would return to the children’s house to sleep. Their Jewish mothers never cooked them a meal, washed their clothes or sang them a lullaby. Usually, the kibbutz system sought to limit private intimacies in case they diverted members’ energy from the comunal project. For Natan, sleep is on the one hand like a short journey to death, in which body and consciousness die until the moment of waking, similar to the reborn. It is like the result of a set of instructions traversed and repeated by a program until a certain situation is reached, approaching the notion of loop. On the other hand, Natan recognizes the total darkness before this short, but dead time, and resembles it to a very lonely place, silent and absent of the knowledge of paradise. Darkness that is present in the memories of Natan and, consequently, represented in her work. Always applied in the framing of the moving images on her videos, which depict the moment, that performative moment, that persistent memory. Phoenix refers to the story of an accidental fire that occurred in one of the kibbutz children’s homes. One of the women who used to take care of the children during the nights, managed to save them from danger. However, she was badly burned and hurt during her action. Since that accident, each time Natan sees the burnt face and hands of that woman, the memories of that dark night of horror occur. In this case, Phoenix, as a loop video work that it is, works as a metaphor about regeneration, life and death, and, going further, about the Christian resurrection. Like the phoenix, the longlived bird mentioned in the Greek mythology that goes on fire again and again, cyclically regenerating or reborning. Is it a process of regeneration or resurrection? Associated with the Sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. According to some sources, the legendary bird dies and simply decomposes before being born again, although there are other sources that claim the phoenix, like Natan’s kibbutz baby bed, dies in a show of flames and combustion.