The video Marseille Jamilla was created by Roee Rosen and Ruti Sela with students, as part of a workshop held at HaMidrasha throughout the semester, at the invitation of Triangle France – Astérides in Marseille. The work, which is also available as a continuous film, has three chapters, and is projected here as a video installation in three channels: a tourism advertisement for the city of Marseille fully shot in Jaffa and accompanied by a jingle composed by Uzi Ramirez; a speech written by Roee Rosen for the mayor of Marseille, played by Ruti Sela; and documentation of conversations with the students throughout the workshop, including questions about the relationship between Jewish and Arab students, colonialism and whitewashing of the violence occurring in Gaza, the way that art can serve as propaganda, and censorship in academe. Rosen and Sela present a satirical portrait of the city of Marseille, using clichés and stereotypes (the flowers, the port, the sunset, and of course – the bouillabaisse), along with interest in concrete aspects of the city, such as the exceptional fact that minorities and immigrants live in its historic center, or the resemblance between the two Mediterranean cities – Marseille and Jaffa. They create an alienation that enables them to raise questions about burning issues here: about freedom of expression in art and academe, and the thin line between collaboration and resistance.
El Yuma is a nickname given by Cubans to tourists (especially from the US) that can support their livelihood. This nickname is common in relation to sex tourism and marriages between local girls and foreign men. The film follows a young Ukrainian and his local suitors in a small town in Cuba. It examines the filmmaker’s position as a Yuma and the documentary practice as comparable with broader notions of exploitation.
This work was created in the frame of the exhibition “Moments. A History of Performance in 10 Acts”: an international live exhibition on the history of art performance in dance and fine arts. At ZKM museum, Germany.
The starting point of the exhibition was the interest in the processes of coming to terms with history in so-called re-enactments of historic performances.
The film opens with its protagonist reading his daughter’s Tarot cards (“you can now become your own mother”), and asks to be handsomely paid. Three days of meetings with Ruti Sela’s father Ruben Kanalenstein after eight years of distance. El Palabrero portrays a man whose virtuosic rhetoric juggling serve to muse on Borges and to hustle out of paying rent. A singular scholar who is a bum – and happens also be the director’s father. El Palabrero mitigates power and reflects on cinema as a means of dialogue, as much as it a family video.
The following work depicts a scientific experiment we initiated in collaboration with neuroscientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science.The experiment examines the brain activity responses of 8200 Israel secret elite intelligence unit veterans to a letter of refusal signed by peers in their unit, whose identities were withheld when released in the media in accordance to military censor law. The work explores issues of censorship, the various conventions of image restraints through which it is mediated while examining how involvement in a system of secrecy and in blocking information influences the visual and auditory cortices. More then a scientific inquiry, we use the situation to reflect on issues of insubordination, forms of interrogation and of mediation of testimony, legal and illegal violence and its ties to trying to restrict the power of the image. Also conceptually, as the censorship forbids reveling 8200 faces, we were interested in the different meanings that arise from the choice to show instead the 8200 brains activity, using to an extant their brain as a mask.
A commission to painters by the municipality in Jerusalem is used in this work in order to produce a video documentation inside the legal department. The work exchange the promise of a traditional portrait with an opportunity to ask on the entanglements between law, stereotypes and social values.
A touching depiction of what is portrayed as an unexceptional night in Tel Aviv: casual kissing, intimacy and socialization with prostitutes. Using accessories and wigs and assuming different identities, Sela moves between the back the front of the camera. She embarks on a nocturnal journey in the streets of Tel Aviv, engaging in spontaneous encounters on the street and in apartments. She depicts an endless search for love and meaningful relationships, documenting hers and her friends’ desires as well as those of random strangers.
Sela and Amir investigates pick-up bars, internet dating sites and call girl services, revealing the deep effects of the military experience on the most intimate practices of young Israelis. As they actively participate and try to seduce young men in restrooms of pick-up joints, schedule anonymous sessions with S&M partners and pay a prostitute to film them with her in a hotel room, the two upset the balances of power between photographer and photographed; masculine and feminine; object and subject. More than anything, however, the trilogy reveals the effects of the occupation, terror and militarism as factors delineating the Israeli identity, even in the most private of moments.
Beyond Guilt #1, 2003, 9:00 min.
During 2003 Sela and Amir filmed encounters with guys and girls they have met in bars. They shot the whole video in the toilets of bars.
Beyond Guilt #2, 2004, 18:00 min.
Sela and Amir contacted the men seen here through a dating website. Every evening they began chatting at eight o’clock and from ten o’clock would arranged to meet with the men in a hotel room in intervals of thirty minutes with each one.
Beyond Guilt #3, 2005, 13:00 min.
In October 2005 Sela and Amir invited a prostitute to a cheap hotel room and asked her to film the video.
Ruti Sela embeds coins of ½ Shekel to her shoes, stomping her feet in a kind of Steps/ Flamenco dance with her middle toe peeking out.
Pride Parade, 2005, 3:00 min. (Jerusalem)
The work documents protestors against the Pride Parade held in Jerusalem in 2005.
During the 24-hour course for students, Ruti Sela creates situations tension between students and their teacher roles. Simple questions of participants disrupt traditional hierarchical approach teaching. All this is further complicated because all the participants at the same time become part of the artwork.
In Ruti Sela earliest video work – an expedition in the streets of Jerusalem, trying to collect hugs from total strangers. Using the powers of the camera to change, and enhance people’s reactions and willingness for exposure.
One of twenty artists invited to participate in Manifesta 8 by Tranzit curatorial collective, Ruti Sela came to Murcia, Spain, to take part in the formulation of a constitution for temporary display (CTD). With all preconditions, rules and modalities, where site, space, and time are re-thought, the participants were instructed to question the role of the curators and the artists alike. Sela decided that her role in the initiative would be to document the days prior to the opening of the exhibition.
The King of Jordan — as a gesture toward the peace with Israel – had sunken a military tank underwater of the Red Sea which starts and ends, where Jordan and Israel meet, the tank was meant to become converted into a coral, to turn into an artificial reef. With Mohammad Abu Ghreganeh.
Ruti Sela and Maayan Amir ordered from a movies extras agency a group of non-professional actors and invited them to participate in a choreography they created by using latest developments in TMS technology. TMS involves an external non invasive method, which can cause brain activity through electromagnetic stimulation of magnetic fields in specific parts of human brain which produces and controls body movement. This is the first time it is used on a group of people at the same time.