Ronit Agassi. The Fifth Season

Feb. 14 until May 5, 2019

The art installation The Fifth Season by Israeli artist Ronit Agassi will be shown at the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism from 14 February. Agassi’s works and objects, some of which were created especially for the Munich Documentation Centre, revolve around the seasons and various aspects of human threat.

In her work, Ronit Agassi weaves together various strands of narrative referencing both the history of the twentieth century and her own biography. Born on a Kibbutz in 1948, the year the State of Israel was founded, Ronit Agassi’s childhood and youth were shaped by the myth of Israel as a collective agricultural utopia. At the same time, her early life was also affected by images of war, the military and the trauma of the Holocaust. Taking the theme of the four seasons – autumn, winter, spring and summer – as well as a fifth season that has no name and neither a future nor a present, Ronit Agassi creates a disturbing yet poetic sequence of sculptures, readymades, textile works, drawings and a video, which she links associatively. Ronit Agassi likes to work with organic, fragile materials such as leaves, pebbles and Japan paper, which she either paints or embroiders in fine stitches. In this way, the artist takes her audience on a journey to the fifth season whose sinister tales only gradually emerge below its fragile surface. With The Fifth Season Ronit Agassi has created a complex work full of allusions. Alongside historical motifs it also uses elements of fairy-tales, literature, music and art history, opening up disparate visual worlds.

The contrast between materiality and motif is shown, for example, in the nine leaves arranged in a tableaux. She has embroidered the delicate organic material in fine cross-stitch in earth and pastel tones in such a way that the faces of leading Nazi figures such as Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler become discernible in the ornamental pattern. Agassi collected the leaves in the Berlin district of Grunewald. It was from Grunewald station that 50,000 Jews were deported to the extermination camps between 1941 and 1945. In its temporary exhibitions the Munich Documentation Centre deliberately sets out to use new methodological concepts and approaches to address the history of the Nazi era or to reference current sociopolitical issues.

The installation The Fifth Season by Ronit Agassi does this through the medium of contemporary art. The fragile, organic materiality of the installation forms a contrast to the sober documentation and educational approach of the exhibition Munich and National Socialism at the Munich Documentation Centre, which is dominated by text and images. Agassi’s objects develop a visual, emotional power, evoking sub-conscious associations for visitors and encouraging contemplation.