29 May 2014

An evening devoted to Inferno the latest work of video artist Yael Bartana, now on view at the Stedelijk. Inferno will be screened and Bartana will be interviewed by writer and scientist Ihab Saloul, an expert in the relationship between culture, politics, and identity in the Middle East.

Teijin Auditorium, Stedelijk Museum
7:30 - 9:30 pm
Entrance price to the museum + € 2.50 cover charge

It is necessary to make a reservation. Send an e-mail to, stating your full name, e-mail address, telephone number, and the date and time of the program you want to attend.

Yael Bartana, Inferno, 2014, single channel DCP video, 22 min., Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam
Yael Bartana, Inferno, 2014, single channel DCP video, 22 min., Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam

The political history and present situation of Israeli artist Yael Bartana’s homeland play an important role in her work. The film Inferno is about the destruction of a replica of Solomon’s Temple, which is currently being built by the leader of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, a neo-Pentecostal movement based in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, where part of the film was also shot. According to Jewish tradition, Solomon’s Temple was the first temple of Israel, and was thought to have been destroyed in the 6th century BC.

The film opens with a sweeping view from a helicopter. The camera hovers over Sao Paolo, a city of millions. Tall buildings loom behind the mountains and the camera swoops down to the ground, where it follows groups of people in white garments carrying fruit and decorated animals, presumably on the way to a ritual site. As the singing swells, they enter a temple where a gigantic menorah, the seven-branched candleholder, and other Jewish religious objects are being delivered by helicopters. During the joyous ceremony, the earth breaks open and a destructive drama follows. The last scene shows the ruins of the temple, which is also a replica of the West Wall, the “Wailing Wall” in Jerusalem; the ruin of Solomon’s Temple, one of the most sacred places for Jews.

About the speakers

Yael Bartana is a video artist who explores the concept of cultural identity in her work. In her photographs, video work, and installations, Bartana critically examines how her homeland of Israel is struggling to find a (national) identity. She studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York (1999) and the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam (2000-2001). Bartana has presented her work in solo exhibitions at the IHME Project in Helsinki (2014), Pérez Art Museum Miami (2013), the Polish Pavilion of the 54th Venice Biennale (2011), Moderna Museet in Malmö (2010), the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw (2009), PS1 in New York (2008), the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv (2008), Kunstverein in Hamburg (2007), and the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven (2006). In addition, her work was exhibited at the Sao Paolo Biennale (2006 and 2010), Documenta 12 in Kassel (2007), and the Istanbul Biennale (2005). Her work is included in various public collections, including those of the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Centre Pompidou (Paris), and Tate Modern (London). Bartana lives and works in Amsterdam and Tel Aviv.

Ihab Saloul is assistant professor of cultural studies and the academic coordinator for heritage and memory studies at the University of Amsterdam. Saloul also lectures at the Freie Universität Berlin as a visiting professor. He was an EUME Fellow at the Wissenschaftkolleg zu Berlin (The Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin), and lectured on literary sciences at Maastricht University. Saloul specializes in the collective memory and politics of identity, literary theory and visual analysis, migration and the diaspora, as well as in contemporary cultural politics in the Middle East. He is currently working on a publication entitled Contested Memories: Homeland's Rhetoric in Palestinian and Israeli Third Generations' Narratives.