Onomatopoeia Guy Bar-Amotz 

Noam Segal

“The more our daily life appears standardised, stereotyped, and subject to an accelerated reproduction of objects of consumption, the more art must be injected into it in order to extract from it that little difference which plays simultaneously between other levels of repetition, and even in order to make the two extremes resonate—namely, the habitual series of consumption and the instinctual series of destruction and death”.

“Onomatopoeia Guybaramotz” is the name the artist chose for his solo exhibition. The original term, which in Greek literally means ‘making a new word’, has become rooted in spoken language as a term describing a word that phonetically imitates what it describes. For example, words for machine sounds such as “honk” or “zap” are considered onomatopoeic. The act of imitation creates a secondary agent, which signifies the signifier and maintains a gap between the two.

In the current exhibition, the viewer finds himself in a kind of theatere of objects, mostly made up of pairs and repetitions. Each work is a particular performance, but the exhibition may be perceived as a comprehensive experience. All the works but one (Patte with rubbish bag) present visual duplications, and only some of them (A4 Sean & Bary with tea mugs, Masks; The Student 1&2) function as unifying agents, while others (A4 Wind with building block, A4 Ta Ta with tahini), present two separate voices.

For example, the similar-yet-not-quite-identical masks both speak in the voice of a single student who asks himself introspectively, what and who he is: a robot, a mask, or a student; is he a mask wearing a mask, or alternatively, an agency imitating itself? The student repeats some of his words, over and over again, in a way that imitates the signified: for example, he pronounces the word “robot” in a metallic voice, thus tracing the process that creates onomatopoeia.

Another work consists of two identical tea cups holding white sheets of paper, speaking in the voice of two artists/agents discussing the work itself. They mention that the current problem of contemporary art is art that it comes with simple operation and installation directions to make it easier for the buyers to purchase them. They believe that in order to shock viewers and potential collectors, artists use multiplication tactics to create a “Wow” effect. In fact, the reproduction of the same basic unit creates a product that is easily appropriated and consumed.

In addition, a single minimalist building block from a construction site holds two identical pieces of paper swaying to the sounds of winds, and a pair of tahini  containers  hold two pieces of paper swaying to the sound of universal football anthem, ta, ta, ta. In both pieces, the sound is repetitive. On the floor, a plastic bag speaks, the only object that is not a “double agent” in its appearance. From it comes the voice of a female critic discussing the gap between the conceptual challenge in the pieces and their unflattering execution as works of art.

We claim that there are two ways to appeal to ‘necessary destructions’: that of the poet, who speaks in the name of a creative power, capable of overturning all orders and representations in order to affirm Difference in the state of permanent revolution which characterizes eternal return; and that of the politician, who is above all concerned to deny that which ‘differs,’ so as to conserve or prolong an established historical order”.

All the texts spoken by the animated object include many repetitions.

Concepts of difference and repetition are preceding the establishment of the identity concept. Moreover, the possibility of identity comes up only from repetition, and the identity is thus made clearer and is formed. However, it will not be particular without a difference. On the other hand, the repetition can also function as an imitation. Bar Amotz considers the question of identity throughout the exhibition, and examines the possibility that imitation will establish an independent identity or only a repeating form, or the establishment of multiple agents opposite the multiplication of an identical thing. He creates for his viewers several pairs, including multiple agents, some of them identical, some imitating each other, others with a personality broken into several agencies becoming more distinct the more they repeat themselves.

Is it possible to talk about a single agent? According to Bar Amotz, it is impossible not to do so. However, even with this “one”, it is difficult to know who this agent is working inside us at any moment. Each individual player participating in the onomatopoeic array exists here as a multiplicity of agents. Bar Amotz presents to us the tahini, the football anthem rhythm, the blocks, and the teacups as agents exposing segments of his identity, each carrying a different cultural load, and each maintaining an alternative class, financial, national, and even artistic economy.

Subsequently, the student, whose own voice speaks from the two similar but non-identical masks, discusses the dilemma of selecting a family whistle and its role among his family, who viewed themselves as the cutting edge of the avant garde in the Israeli kibbutz. It raises questions about group and individual identity, in which the whistle functions paradoxically as an imitation, as a continuous unifying group marker, and as a symbol of individualism and striving for independent identity.

Meanwhile, while the two cups/artists criticize the work, which they constitute themselves and talk about the unbearable lightness of artistic repetition and about a replicating archetype, Bar Amotz creates an alternative, in which by way of eternal repetition, a possible refuge transpires.

Each work in the exhibition is an object, a replication, a failure, an imitation of the idea on which it was based, a critical discussion, a repetition, and mainly, a singular identity that comes up from the sum of these characteristics.

Within this complex array, Bar Amotz makes the missing word present and realizes it in the experience of the exhibition – singularity.