One Is Always a Plural
Yael Davids in dialogue with works by Eleanor Antin, Phyllida Barlow, Heidi Bucher, Teresa Burga, Graciela Carnevale, Hanne Darboven, Marlene Dumas, VALIE EXPORT, Guerrilla Girls, Graciela Gutiérrez Marx, Ferdinand Hodler, Dorothy Iannone, Teresa Margolles, Senga Nengudi, Henrik Olesen, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Cathy Wilkes, and others from the collection of the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst as well as loans from the Noa Eshkol Foundation for Movement Notation and Jon Mikel Euba.
The artist Yael Davids’s (b. Jerusalem, 1968) installations and performances engage with the body as a place where personal and collective narratives intersect. For the exhibition project One Is Always a Plural, she arranges works from the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst’s collection in dialogue with her own sculptural creations and installations. Selected works from the collection also serve as foundation for the development of performances and a series of practice lessons based on a method by Moshé Feldenkrais. The audience is cordially encouraged to actively participate in these classes.
Yael Davids explores the potential of performative strategies and somatic techniques as alternative approaches to art. The artist’s practice facilitates a comprehensive bodily experience that transcends visual perception and rational understanding. The Felden-krais method is based on the slow, deliberate, and conscious execution of individual movement sequences. It helps us understand our own (movement-)habits, recognize potentials for change, and internalize alternatives. Moshé Feldenkrais emphasized the central importance of creating a suitable and supportive setting for learning processes. Yael Davids similarly seeks to establish the museum as a place of communal learning—a body-oriented, ‘organic’ learning defined by curiosity and openness.
The Feldenkrais perspective also informs Davids’s selection of art—the artist is especially interested, for example, in works in which she discerns an ‘aesthetics of learning’. Her arrangement initiates conversations between different artistic positions that examine the roles and functions that our bodies can perform in various social contexts. Instead of focusing on the individual object in isolation, the exhibition, as the title One Is Always a Plural suggests, orchestrates diverse voices, images, and creative practices for a collection that bears the imprint of the artist’s subjective vision. The selection thus reflects Yael Davids’s own system of artistic references as well. The exhibition not only offers visitors an opportunity to rediscover the collection with fresh eyes, it is also an invitation to experience the body in the museum, its movements and consciousness, as an experiment in a different kind of encounter with art.
The exhibition is curated by Nadia Schneider Willen (collection curator, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst). An iteration of the exhibition was first presented at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, in 2020, where it was initiated and curated by Nick Aikens (research curator, Van Abbemuseum). It was produced as part of Creator Doctus, a new research format launched by the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam, with Yael Davids as the inaugural ‘candidate’.
Yael Davids lives and works in Amsterdam. Selected international solo exhibitions, installations, and performances include: A Daily Practice, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2020; Dying Is a Solo, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, 2018; documenta 14, Athens / Kassel, 2017; La distance entre V et W, Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, Paris, 2015; Gesture in Diaspora, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig, 2015; Ending with Glass, Kunsthalle Basel, 2011; Learning to Imitate in Absentia I, Picture This, Bristol, 2011; Where Times Becomes Art, Palazzo Fortuny, performance division, Venice Biennale, 2005.