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.
David Reeb: Recent Paintings and Photographs, exhibition catalogue, Haus am Lützowplatz, Berlin 1999
Jeremy Lewison and Giorgia Bottinelli