PARDES (Orchard), 2014
2 channel video installation
The work of Yael Bartana often reflects on rituals and the relationship between individual responsibility and collective actions. With PARDES* Bartana takes a very personal look at how Westerners are seeking for personal enlightenment by appropriating traditional rituals: In “Healing Tourism” she documents the journey of a close friend – an Israeli artist, who on one hand doubtful apostatizes all religion, on the other hand is on constant search for deeper understanding, investigating Kabbalah as well as the cults of the Amazonas. Under the guidance of the Brazilian Shaman Dona Francisca (Francisquinha) from the Xawandawa tribe he undergoes the Ayahuasca ritual, taking the psychedelic brew that is told to lead to deep spiritual revelations about the universe and the own personality, a feeling described as an experience of rebirth, enlightenment or - in the worst case - as one of the worst trips possible. What used to happen hidden from the eyes of the world has become accessible or even a touristic activity - for some out of curiosity, for others out of longing for strong spiritual experiences or even healing. But even the Shaman herself represents already a mix of cultural influences: The 52-years old Dona Francisca, who recites an “Ave Maria just as well as traditional tribal songs, is one of the abuelas (Grandmothers) of the Earth and a member of Santo Daime, a syncretic spiritual practice founded in the 1930s that mixes elements of several spiritual traditions including Folk Catholicism, Kardecist Spiritism, animism and indigenous shamanism. The once very specific and local ritual becomes an inclusive performance, open for very different needs and cultural backgrounds. *The title 'Pardes' also is a reference to the tradition of Jewish exegesis.