Yael Bartana Sommer Art Contemporary
Yael BartanaSommer Art Contemporary
sommergallery.comTel Aviv, Zurich
Yael Bartana, Malka Germania (film still), 2021, three channel video and sound installation, 43 min



She Is Hope.

She Is the Leader.

She Is the Messiah.

She Is History.

She Is Fake.



The video artist Yael Bartana (b. Kfar Yehezkel, Israel, 1970; lives and works in Amsterdam and Berlin) makes work that explores the visual language of identity and the politics of commemoration. The critical scrutiny of collective expectations of political or religious salvation is a central concern in her art. In the video installation Malka Germania—Hebrew for “Queen Germania”—Bartana creates alternative realities from the German-Jewish past and present that bring scenes of the collective unconscious to light.




Yael Bartana, Malka Germania (film still), 2021, three channel video and sound installation, 43 min


“That’s the trouble with POWER. Leaders disappoint us very quickly. This is why I am so careful with Malka. And this was one of the reasons I wanted to eliminate the leader of the Jewish Renaissance Movement. I felt if he had too much power he would mess up. The power has to stay with the people"



Yael Bartana. The Book of Malka Germania (trailer)


The video work Malka Germania, commissioned by the Jewish Museum Berlin, investigates the longing for collective redemption as a response to an age of anxiety. An androgynous messianic figure, Malka Germania, arrives in Berlin and brings about a series of changes in the city: the past and future implode into an alternative present.


Malka Germania is Hebrew for “Queen Germania.” The name makes reference to an unusual female designation for the Messiah: “Malka Meshichah,” or the “Annointed Queen.” The Messiah has come to Berlin and thus to the historic epicenter of Jewish, Israeli, and German collective memory. Instead of experiencing immediate redemption, as the exhibition’s title might imply, the city is haunted by its residents’ collective subconscious: their dreams, fears, and memories. The piece portrays subconscious elements, gray areas, and ambiguities of contemporary German-Jewish experience through the artistic medium. At the same time, it attempts to disrupt a fixed iconography and to deconstruct identities.


Bartana leaves the question of who is to be redeemed ambiguous. Perhaps it is people trying to shake off the Nazi past? Or others who want to move on from the trauma of the Holocaust? Or does she mean all humankind as the beneficiaries of a messianic age? The commissioned work shows how impossible it is to break away from personal or inherited pasts. At the same time, it preserves the tension of redemption, which is a core element of national myths and collective identities.


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