Ansaar IX, 2008, oil on linen, 150 x 250 cm, courtesy of the artist and Noga Gallery of Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv
Gilad Efrat's painting depicts a detention camp or temporary prison. A panoramic, bird's-eye view from outside of the prison area reveals a scraped-over and emptied-out site, which does not fully disclose its function. This work is part of a series of paintings based on a 2003 series of photographs by artist Roi Kuper. These photographs feature the Ketziot detention camp in the Negev, which is also known as Ansar - after the Ansar prison in Lebanon. The Ketziot prison was opened in 1988, following the outbreak of the first intifada. It was closed down during the period of the Oslo agreements, with the freeing of Palestinian security prisoners. During its period of operation, thousands of Palestinian detainees were held at the prison under extremely harsh conditions, and it became a notorious symbol of oppression. While working on his series, Kuper photographed different areas of the abandoned prison, paying special attention to the site's characteristics and to the imprint of passing time: barbed wire fences, rusty barracks, empty yards, deserted watchtowers, desiccated vegetation and dry earth. Efrat's work is entirely about a process of emptying out, of destruction; its painterly subtleties embody a political and social horror. It seems to attempt to shift from the concrete instance to its underlying principle, from the specific to the general. Although it preserves the frame of Kuper's original image, it is devoid both of human beings and of the other identifying climactic, topographical or cultural marks that appeared in Kuper's photographs. The work seems to touch upon the general idea of imprisonment more than upon the specific case of the Ansar prison. One could even describe it as examining the schema underlying the concept of imprisonment, and the manner in which power is a function of the division of
space - thus distilling the treatment of the concept of power.
Born in Be'er Sheva, 1969; lives and works in Tel Aviv