Past Exhibitions

Remains of the Terracotta Order

Shir Meller-Yamaguchi

Curator: Shir Meller-Yamaguchi

Dalia Meiri’s installation was conceived in the first person plural. The artist replicated parts from her own body and her husband’s body, which she transformed into anonymous soldiers standing on parade, held in place by steel rods, as part of a human formation that has survived. Columns upon columns, they stand at the ready, naked, their gazes fixed forward vis-à-vis the vulnerability of their bodies. The clay chips with which they are covered remind us that man’s true battle is against the unknown time span allotted him: “For dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return.”

Dalia Meiri

The installation was inspired by the Terracotta Army which Meiri saw in China two years ago in the Emperor’s Tomb in Xi’an, which left a strong impression on her. These life-size Terracotta Warriors were created more than two thousand years ago, to protect Emperor Qin Shi Huang on his journey to the next world and were positioned around his tomb. Some seven thousand archers, swordsmen, and cavaliers stand ready for battle. The endless work involved in the construction of these troops took a heavy toll on the people. After the Emperor’s passing the rebels, angry for his cruelty, broke into the tomb and smashed much of the clay army with their swords.

Dalia Meiri

The terracotta fragments which survived from this ambitious endeavor to construct a grand army struck at the very heart of the theme interesting Meiri as an artist: the greatness and insignificance of human existence. Even prior to her visit to China, Meiri created a series of installations which addressed the strength and frailty of the human body. In Ex Voto—Golden Leaves (2002) presented at the Museum of Art, Ein Harod, she cast monumental body skeletons of a man and a woman in rebar, to which she attached golden “body masks” akin to offerings, or possibly death masks. Body sections also appeared in the installation Landscapes presented in 2003-04 at the Commemoration Center Gallery, Tivon. A fortified wall was constructed from concrete casts of a male (her husband’s) torso placed one atop the other along several meters.

Dalia Meiri

The human wall she erected strives to explore the notion of “manpower.” Meiri always confronts power in relation to man. Thus, for example, her large-scale stone sculptures adapt nature to a human scale. When she left her stone sculptures to return to sculptures of the human body, Meiri related to the body as if it were a building, although not necessarily a permanent one.
The figure shells in the terracotta shards parade are united; for a split second it seems that their joint power suffices, but the power in the installation stems not from the body’s strength, but rather from recognition and acceptance of its ephemerality. The installation invites one to explore the configuration of external forces as opposed to man’s inner powers, those that are not necessarily perishable…

Shir Meller-Yamaguchi, Curator