Yael Bartana, Two Minutes to Midnight, video, sculpture, 7 April–14 May 2022

We are proud to present a solo exhibition with the acclaimed artist and filmmaker Yael Bartana, shown in Stockholm for the first time.

Between 2017 and 2018, Yael Bartana staged different versions of the experimental performance What if Women Ruled the World? A group of actors gather on a stage, ready for their performance. They are playing the all-female government of an imaginary nation. In light of the looming threat posed by an enemy country which is increasing its nuclear stockpiles, the government assembles in its “Peace Room” – so named as an inversion of Dr. Strangelove’s “War Room”, because here peace is preferable to war. In deciding how to respond, and in considering whether to proceed with their plans for unilateral disarmament, the government consults with female experts – real life specialists, defence advisers, soldiers, lawyers, peace activists, humanitarians and politicians – who join the actors on stage. Each presentation of the performance was filmed, altogether involving 40 experts.

Bringing their experiences from different fields to the table, the experts addressed the imminent nuclear threat, reflecting on the real world crises of our male dominated reality. By placing outside experts within a fictional environment, the performance created a unique encounter between world-renowned women. Mixing scripted material with improvised discussions, it allowed for a collective questioning of inequitable gender paradigms. While exchanging ideas about war, security, and inequality, the peace cabinet formed new policies, including the wish to “bury our weapons, not our bodies”.

The video Two Minutes to Midnight (2021, 47 min), now featured in a gallery show for the first time, is the final stage of the transdisciplinary series of performances. The main themes present in the conversations – gender inequality, international arms race, toxic masculinity and environmental changes – set the starting point for the film. The course of events is determined by the urgent need to act before Doomsday Clock – a potent symbol of scientific concerns about humanity’s possible annihilation – strikes midnight.

The gallery exhibition also includes sculptures in the shape of fossilized weapons, wall objects as well as a photograph. Working with powerful aesthetic tools and imagery, Bartana’s project presents an ominous scenario which is closer to reality than in a long time. Foreshadowing the current Russian invasion of Ukraine and the haunting threat of a nuclear war, Two Minutes to Midnight examines the impact which female-led governments could have on the way that international crises are resolved.

Yael Bartana’s earlier video work Inferno (2013) will be screened during the exhibition, please see below for dates and times. The starting point of Inferno is the construction of the third Temple of Solomon in São Paulo, which is a replica of the first temple in Jerusalem that were violently destructed and led to the diaspora of the Jewish people in the 6th century BCE.

Yael Bartana (born in Israel, 1970) has been exhibited worldwide, and is represented in the collections of many museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Tate Modern, London, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. She lives and works in Berlin and Amsterdam.

Selected solo exhibitions include University Art Gallery, University of California, Irvine (2022), Jewish Museum, Berlin (2021), Philadelphia Museum of Art (2018, 2021), Fondazione Modena Arti Visive (2019/2020), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2015), Secession, Vienna (2012), Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2012), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk (2012), 54th Venice Biennal, Polish Pavilion (2011), Moderna Museet, Malmö (2010), and MoMA PS1, New York (2008).

Group exhibitions include Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2021/2022), KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2020), Sao Paulo Biennial (2014, 2010, 2006), Berlin Biennial (2012), Documenta 12 (2007), Istanbul Biennial (2005), and Manifesta 4 (2002). Bartana won the Artes Mundi 4 Prize (2010) and the trilogy And Europe Will Be Stunned was ranked as the 9th most important artwork of the 21st century by The Guardian (2019).

Currently, Yael Bartana participates with her work The Undertaker (2019) in the exhibition Noa Eshkol – Rules, Theory and Passion at Norrköping Art Museum, which is a collaboration with Oslo Kunstforening (26 March–2 October).

Screening of Inferno (2013), length: 22 min.
Saturday 9 April at 12:00
Saturday 23 April at 12:00
Saturday 7 May at 12:00
Saturday 14 May at 12:00

What if Women Ruled the World? (2017–2018) was commissioned and produced as a live project by Manchester International Festival, European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017 and Volksbühne Berlin.

Additional footage was shot during the live performance Bury Our Weapons, Not Our Bodies in Philadelphia in 2018.

Courtesy of Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam, Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milano, Petzel Gallery, New York and Capitain Petzel, Berlin.

Read an interview with Yael Bartana by Anna-Lena Werner here.

”Yael Bartana: ’Om kvinnor styrde Ryssland, skulle samma sak ha hänt då?’”, DN / Matilda Källén
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”Kriget ger nya perspektiv till Yael Bartanas fredsrum fyllt av kvinnor”, SR Kulturnytt / Cecilia Blomberg
Listen to a short excerpt here… (2 min)
Listen to the full interview here… (14 min)

”Yael Bartana hos Cecilia Hillström”, Konsten.net / Andreas Gedin
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”Kusligt nära Putins hot om kärnvapenkrig”, SvD / Joanna Persman
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”Jag är inte traumatiserad jag är irriterad”, Judisk Krönika / Paulina Sokolow
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”Sår, saknad och trygghetslängtan i krigets spår”, DN / Birgitta Rubin
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