Northstar is a site-specific installation commissioned by the Jewish-Arab Gallery in Kibbutz Cabri. In this project Shir Raz mapped an area whose topography starts at a point known as the “California Bench,” an observation point that links the romantic (a lovers’ bench overlooking the entire region) with the military (strategic observation point northwards). The route traced by the work, which begins about three hundred meters above sea level, passes through Kibbutz Cabri and the springs that it sits upon, and slopes towards the coastal strip south of the town of Nahariya. Raz compresses the 300 meters’ elevation from the foot of the ridge to its summit, and the documented 3,000 years of the archaeological past of Kibbutz Cabri and its surroundings, into a single, enigmatic, three-dimensional “image,” situated in the tunnel-like corridor beneath the former communal dining hall of the kibbutz—the bottommost point of a hill.
The materials that she uses are ready-made objects that have been diverted, or disrupted. A large parasol that has lost its sole post is now a kind of collapsed parachute. The cords of the parachute tie it to a lounge chair, which has undergone a military “conversion” and is now suited for camouflaged, covert observation. Scattered around are fragments of vases that the artist has reconstructed from a photograph depicting one of the archaeological digs at Cabri and its surroundings. The vase fragments in the photograph and in the installation are akin to the bodies of marine mammals floating in the waters of a bay, whose waters are time itself. The sandbags from the photograph complete the “fortification” of the work, the demarcation of its territory. The final—and most crucial—two elements in the work are its direction and the landscape viewed through the open window.
Northstar turns its back toward the north direction, where, at the end of a zigzagging path up the ridge, the conceptual starting point of the project lies. The “paratrooper” who launched himself off the ridge is now stuck in the middle of his journey, on the intermediate level ground between the Sulam Ridge and the beach, between high and low, between the contemporary and the excavated from the past, between the civilian use of the landscape and its military perception as a commanding position. Raz directs us to the landscape that visitors to Cabri and the locals enjoy and are proud of, yet suggests that we contemplate the full meanings of the terms area and landscape in the Israeli context. The North Star, which fixes the compass rose and gives us orientation and direction, flashes faintly in the daylight reflected from the sea.
Avshalom Suliman, 2021.