IRENA GORDON, Jerusalem Print Workshop, Jerusalem

Hilla Lulu Lin’s visual theatre knows no limits: each element / object / image — whether body part, lingual element, pearl, feather or egg — undergoes magical metamorphoses, from sculpture to print, from painting to video work, from art book to installation. On this occasion, in the works on display in this exhibition, the word is at the hub.

"I got it — I lied — I stole — I failed — I came — I loved — I esacped — Help!" is a series of boxes enfolding eight words, each separate, in eight wooden boxes painted white, also containing cooking salt and illuminated by fluorescent light. The words, designed with Lin’s private font which omits the final letters customary in Hebrew script, are elaborated to the verge of deformation — stretched or squeezed, thickened or disjointed. They are screenprinted on the glass partition at the centre of each box, the glass permitting the word to be read from the opposing side, in reverse. The glass is immersed in the pile of salt to cover part of the word, while yet leaving it legible. This set of sculptural and graphic elements constitutes the material nature of the text, its autonomy, its presence within Nature. The words become three-dimensional objects existing and happening around the spectator, exposed to any possible reading, for the boxes are scattered about at random in the exhibition space.

These word-sculptures seem to embody the substantial dramatics of the text. The words - with the exception of the exclamation, all personal by nature, verbs in the first person, past tense — pursue a physical relationship in the exhibition space. In Lin’s "Fiery Inscription" project, under way at this time, she grants the words a further reincarnation, additional souls, by their conversion into performance art — some with numerous participants, others intimate — that she is mounting in different locations throughout the country. These happenings are documented by video, achieving their climax when the words are ignited into a fiery inscription. In this manner, the artist expands the exhibition space beyond the exhibition itself, beyond the artistic domicile, in a bid to generate an artificial parallel reality, where the word grows, achieves dominance, catches fire and ultimately burns itself out.

In two other works in boxes, "Boiling Blood" and "Tickticking Bomb", the words are not personal. Their meaning appertains to the public domain, to daily realities, and their appearance is dramatic, fetish-like: the boxes are painted blood-red, without salt or light, while the words trapped within them take on a visual dimension enhanced by their reflection and duplication in a mirror affixed to the bottom of the box. The reversal of the words, the word play, the reflection and duplication — all these characterise Lin’s work, and are also prominent in her books, including "Shririm" (2000) and "A cow, a fish and a gold turtle" (1999). They act as a kind of mirage agitating against any possibility of identification with the meaning of the text. It is a carefully-structured visual riddle pointing to the aesthetics of the language, while sapping its ability to convey meaning.

In the print "Scream into a Paper Bag", created at the Workshop in 1996, language is just one further element out of an assortment of visual images: photograph of an ear, sprouting from one side a bare bush (network of bloodvessels?) above which are the words "Scream into a paper bag", with a skeletal hand resting on its other side. On the right of the print but disconnected from the ear is a network heart, one of Lin’s hallmarks. The fragmentation of the print’s images reflects the manner of their creation: the artist generated them on a computer, transferring them photographically onto brass plates, each image on a separate plate. Having been etched, they were then sawn out of the plates, daubed with paint and re-arranged on the printing press. The print ultimately produced is in effect an assemblage of etchings, each in a different colour.

The duplicated "box-like" elements: "I got it — I lied — I stole — I failed — I came — I loved — I escaped — Help!", the forceful boxes of "Blood Blood" and "Tickticking Bomb", the silent assemblage of "Scream into a Paper Bag", the reversals and word play — all these generate theatricality that is Dadaist in nature, its radical aesthetic aspect, with its evasive meanings, conquering more and more worlds. In this fashion, Lin’s work disturbs the spectator, obliging him to contend with a different reality and to an effort to encompass it.

IRENA GORDON