David Reeb

Clean

1999

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Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 1600 x 1402 x 21 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Joseph Hackmey 2000
Reference
T07654

Summary

Painted in 1999 in Reeb's Tel Aviv studio, Clean represents an extract from the autobiography of the former Mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kolleck (born 1911). In it Kolleck, who had become Mayor of Jerusalem in 1965, describes the entry of the Israeli troops into the old city on 7 June 1967 and the decisions which were taken to demolish buildings without regard for the feelings of the occupied peoples and taking into account only the archaeological needs and history of the occupiers [see also the short text for Reeb's Let's Have Another War no.5, 1997, T07652]. Initially when the Israelis occupied the old city they were against making any changes, but after only a few days their attitude changed. Thus Arab dwellings built in front of the western wall of the Second Temple were demolished to make a plaza allowing access by thousands of Jews to their holy site, itself set beneath the Dome of the Rock, a sacred Muslim site. This extract describes a critical moment in the history of relations between the Israelis and the Palestinians and their separate regard for their respective cultures. Presented in a deadpan way, the work allows the viewers to determine their own views on the decisions taken.

Clean is one of a series of text pieces Reeb has made recently, which include his own accounts of being in a tank regiment under fire in 1973 (he served in the Israeli Army during the 'Yom Kippur War'), of the death of a young Israeli soldier who stepped on a landmine, of a decree issued by the Nazi regime regarding the separate rights of Jews and Germans and of his experience of being an art student and making works about the Baader-Meinhoff gang. Reeb sees himself as a camera lens who records his times objectively for others to manipulate and interpret. All the accounts given in his text pieces are presented as matter of fact with no apparent indication as to the artist's views on the subject; nevertheless, Reeb's own accounts must perforce involve a degree of subjectivity and, more importantly, the choice of texts in itself necessarily becomes a comment both on the facts presented and their significance.

Further reading:
David Reeb: Recent Paintings and Photographs, exhibition catalogue, Haus am Lützowplatz, Berlin 1999

Jeremy Lewison and Giorgia Bottinelli
February 2002

Display caption

Clean depicts a page from the autobiography of the former Mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kolleck. It describes an incident shortly after the Israeli army seized the Old City of Jerusalem in the Six Day War of 1967. The Arab neighbourhood which had stood since the Middle Ages alongside the Western Wall was demolished to allow Jewish pilgrims free access to the holy site. Kolleck’s account of this contentious episode is presented in a deadpan manner, allowing the viewer to accept or question it. The title is ambiguous, suggesting an echo of the phrase ‘ethnic cleansing’.

Gallery label, November 2006

Technique and condition

Reeb has used a home made strainer that has no expansion facility. With the canvas stretched, a fluid white primer has been energetically applied forcing the paint through to the back of the canvas. Contact with the cross braces and cross members has resulted in primer pooling and running down the back. Probably two coats or more were applied.

The text Reeb painted has been depicted using thinned black paint.

There is an overall clear resin layer apparent.

Timothy Green
September 2000