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The Pleasures of Death

What is it, Amnon and Tamar – sorry, Dov and Tamar – that compels you to indulge in the pleasures of death with such eroticism, so joyfully and totally? This multiple indulgence encompasses three exhibitions, three dramatic happenings on land, at sea and in fire and three video works – all jointly created by a man and a woman.

Jacques Lacan used the French term "jouissance" to describe a continuous, never ending state that begins at a specific point in time. This cyclically recurring experience of immense and unsatisfied pleasure (as opposed to Freud's fulfillment of the pleasure principle) is accompanied by an experience of pain that cannot be easily distinguished from it. Lacan's jouissance is an essentially feminine experience, and is thus both multifaceted and inexplicable. The scent of passion is the sweet and painful accompaniment of death. Tamar and Dov's ceremonies of burial, burning and drowning may be seen as a form of continuous jouissance – of pleasure that touches upon the pain of destruction while awakening a kind of excitement that constantly demands repetition: "Please, more, more… burn me too, drown me, photograph me as well…"

The deliberate taking of one's own life, which encompasses power, joy, eroticism, pleasure, multiplicity and above all choice.
When a person chooses, he or she feels alive and creative.
Dov and Tamar have chosen to commit suicide in their works, and to transform this act into a joint experience:
Together on the ground, at sea, in the fire. How intimate!
Yet what about the additional element – the wind?
The four elements – Earth, Water, Fire and Wind – exist, after all, as a single complex. The absence of wind cannot be ignored; it is the element that unites the three other elements and hovers over them. It might have rendered these artistic happenings more "viewer friendly."
Yet let us not forget: Dov and Tamar have doomed their works to suicide. The viewers did not choose to be exposed to death – it was imposed upon them.

These are the things that have come to pass upon the earth of Kibbutz Be'eri, which was suffused with blood in the course of numerous wars: The First and Second World Wars, the War of Independence, the Six Day War, the War of Attrition, the Yom Kippur War, and – most recently – the Kassam rocket attacks. During the Yom Kippur War, the land surrounding the kibbutz served as a temporary burial ground for unidentified soldiers. The kibbutz community, which accepted the presence of this temporary cemetery in a loving and compassionate manner, refused to accept the grave that surrounds the intertwined artworks created by Dov and Tamar. Its location in the vicinity of the dining room – the kibbutz pantheon – was viewed as a desecration of the sanctity of life in a community that is trying to change while preserving its basic values. The kibbutz members did not regard these acts of suicide and burial as symbolic acts charged with desire and open to new and refreshing outcomes; rather, they viewed them as acts that could only stem from a total lack of choice. This was especially true for veteran kibbutz members, who refute the idea of being embraced by death or suicide.

Dov and Tamar force us spectators to experience the act of bidding farewell to our most intimate, clandestine assets. Nonetheless, this act of leavetaking is filled not with agony, but with a kind of sweet pleasure that enables us to choose life. A very difficult choice indeed.

Anat Botzer

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