Behind the Mirror

The invention of the mirror changed the face of humanity both literally and figuratively. Can we imagine our faces at all without a mirror? How does the mirror affect the way we see ourselves and our perception of beauty?
The collection of Chinese mirrors on view in the exhibition invites the viewer to transcend the familiar context of a self-portrait seen through a mirror, as recurring in the history of art. The bronze mirrors, which first appeared in China some 4,000 years ago, were luxuries. Their unique qualities and expensive production destined them exclusively for the upper class, whom they served in their lives and were even buried next to them after death to provide protection and ward off evil spirits.
In the collection display one may observe the stylized decoration on the backs of the mirrors, which changed from cosmological patterns during the Han period (206 BCE – 9 CE) to tiny fauna and flora reliefs in later periods. Without regular polishing, which is frequently required to renew their luster, the mirrors grew dim over the years.
The mirrors’ similarity to the sun and moon, due to their circular shape and ability to reflect light, is also manifested in the inscriptions, which appear on their backs, carrying a prayer for eternal life, and often expressing a blessing for perfection, clarity, and inner purity.
The exhibition seeks to explore the meanings of the mirror through contemporary works of art, among other things. Some of these works introduce the mirror as a miraculous object which reflects light; others look at the illusory space it generates, questioning its ability to reflect reality faithfully.

Shir Meller-Yamaguchi