Light to the Nations, 2023

Mixed Media Installation

Light to the Nations  is a work created by Yael Bartana which combines different media such as sculpture, VR, and video animation, as well as a learning center.

It is a proposal about the attempts, dystopic and utopic, to save humanity in the face of a global catastrophe, whether man-made or caused by nature, which would extinguish any possibility of life on Earth. The work is influenced by post-apocalyptic science-fiction literature and a critique of today's accelerated technological progress, and the economic and political forces involved in it. The title Light to the Nations, taken from the Bible, points towards possibilities of redemption in the Jewish context but indicates a more universal message.

At the heart of the work is the creation of a generation ship: a mothership that will lead humanity towards other planets, and in doing so exercise the cabalistic concept of Tikkun Olam (lit. 'the repair of the world'). This vessel is designed to host in its first phase a community of 98 souls in a journey that will take thousands of years and will travel far beyond our solar system. The ship’s dimensions allow for a growing population so that future generations will be able to build a new community if not a nation. However, its goal is unknown: whether to inhabit a faraway planet, return to and populate Earth once it recovers, or travel endlessly, ever evolving, aboard this spaceship. The generation ship is seen as a project of the Jewish-Israeli nation which will serve as a spearhead in repairing the world, an example for all nations to follow (hence, ‘light to the nations’). It therefore proposes a redemptive idea for repairing the world and uses the political imagination as a platform for future possibilities, an act Yael Bartana terms pre-enactment. Through the generation ship, the artist creates, in the words of Fredric Jameson, an ‘archeology of the future’ which will enable us to comprehend our present state and create a prophetic climate for things to come.

Yael Bartana
Light to the Nations

Curator | Udi Edelman
Artistic Advisor | Doreet LeVitte-Harten
Generation Ship Architecture | Assaf Kimel
Sound design and Music | Daniel Meir
Graphic design | 
Gila Kaplan, Avi Bohbot
Neon design and wall drawing | Guy Saggee - Shual Studio
VR design | Highroad Stories - Mike Robbins, Harmke Heizen, Assaf Kimel
Video editing | Daphna Keenan
Space design | Assaf Kimel
Artifacts production | 
Eili Levy, Saygel & Schreiber, Sassi Mazor, Uri Batson, 3D Signs
Exhibition views | Daniel Sheriff
Producer | Adi Nachman

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