“Ariel Sharon” lies propped up in a hospital bed, the frailty of the figure belying the larger-than-life dimensions that its namesake once personified. Sightless eyes stare ahead impassively; its chest rises and falls slowly as it ‘breathes’ unaided. Visitors are only permitted to view it in smalls groups of three, at most; the overall tone is sepulchral. The experience recalls that of visiting an infirm relative in a hospital ward, but at the same time echoes something more disconcerting; it is not entirely dissimilar to that of gawping at a monument, at an artifact of cultural importance. The emphasis is on an ‘artifact’ — what one sees is a relic, a reminder of what once was but no longer is.
“Ariel Sharon,” Noam Braslavsky’s solo exhibition at Tel Aviv’s Kishon Gallery (which is run by Renana Kishon, daughter of the much beloved satirist Ephraim Kishon), features the prone simulacrum of Ariel Sharon, warrior and statesman. The most significant and controversial personage of the Israeli political landscape over the last 30 years, Sharon has lain in a coma since suffering a stroke in 2006. Braslavsky’s solitary representation of the ailing former Prime Minister in his hospital bed is the subject of the exhibit.