Project no. 119

Ronnie Setter

Emil und die Detektive

On opening night, violinist Guy Braunstein (1st Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra),
flautist Gili Schwarzman, and cellist Zvi Plesser will perform Haydn's London Trio for
flute,

 violin and cello, followed by the Jazz Band, Tal and Reut Quartet

Curator: Rachel Sukman

Opening: Thurs. 14.10.2010
Closing: 19.11.2010
 

Our new address: 6 Zamenhoff St. (near Dizengoff Square), Tel Aviv, tel.: 03-5254191
Gallery hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.- 2 p.m., Mon.-Thurs. 5-7 p.m


<Back

Home

  Next>

 

Alexanderplatz and Emil's Dream,
Mixed media  33X45X8

Alexanderplatz with Red Cars,
Mixed media  33X45X8

Alexanderplatz: The Thief has Yet to be Found,
Mixed media  33X45X8

     

Hamburger Bahnhof: Horses on the railway tracks,
Mixed media  33X45X8

Hamburger Bahnhof A Place for Art,
Mixed media  33X45X8

Motzstrasse with the Detectives on the Hotel Balconies,
Mixed media  33X45X8

     

Motzstrasse with Emil's Friends on the Tree,
Mixed media  33X45X8

Motzstrasse with Children,
Mixed media  33X45X8

The Corner of Motzstrasse and Eisenacher Strasse: Emil Meets Pony Hutchen,
Mixed media  33X45X8

     

The Corner of Motzstrasse and Eisenacher Strasse: Search on the Rooftops,
Mixed media  33X45X8

Nollendorfplatz with a Table Hovering in Mid Air,
Mixed media  33X45X8

Nollendorfplatz: The Thief Grundeis without Hands,
Mixed media  33X45X8

     

Nollendorfplatz with Bicycle in the Air,
Mixed media  33X45X8

Potsdamer Platz from a Bird's Eye View,
Mixed media  33X45X8

Potsdamer Platz: There is no Berlin without Potsdamer Platz,
Mixed media  33X45X8

     

Potsdamer Platz with a Wooden Table,
Mixed media  33X45X8

Friedrichstrasse: The Chair Stands for Stuhlbein,
Mixed media  33X45X8

Friedrichstrasse and the White Suitcase,
Mixed media  33X45X8

     

Kaiserstrasse with a Motorcyclist,
Mixed media  33X45X8

Kaiserstrasse: Cafe Josty,
Mixed media  33X45X8

Number 15 Schumann Street: Everyone is Waiting for Emil,
Mixed media  33X45X8

     

Number 15 Schumann Street: This is where Emil's Grandmother Lives,
Mixed media  33X45X8

Brandenburger Tor and Unter den Linden Behind the Thief,
Mixed media  33X45X8

Brandenburger Tor with Three Red Cars,
Mixed media  33X45X8

     
   
 

Nollendorf Station: Emil Falls Asleep in the Train,
Mixed media  33X45X8

 
     

Ronnie Setter's Berlin 

Rachel Sukman 

Erich Kästner's novel Emil and the Detectives was published in 1929, and became one of the most popular books for youth worldwide. Its plot takes place in the city of Berlin. Alfred Döblin's novel Berlin Alexanderplatz was published the same year, forthwith becoming a bestseller. Guy Braunstein, an Israeli violinist residing in Berlin, is first violin of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Ronnie Setter frequents Berlin often, visiting her violinist son. 

Ronnie Setter is an artist who, from her private Berlin, creates illuminated art inside closed yet transparent wooden boxes. The inner cord which she strikes stems from the light and from the interest in art inspired by her stays in Berlin, the city in which she walks for long hours, day and night, in autumn and winter, never tiring. She visits the city time and again, rediscovering herself and her love for the diversified art field each time anew. Every photographic image of a square or a crossroads from the 1920s, which she downloads from the Internet, immediately awakens her painterly instincts, and out of her imaginary world the hand is activated, incessantly tracing them with impressive lightness. She adorns the streets of Berlin, its rooftops, balconies and windows with painted or sculpted figures in diverse colors and sizes. At times she goes back to the Holocaust period, inventing episodes which she draws, such as policemen with dogs hunting Jews. At times she is so happy to be free in Berlin that she takes the stylus and draws horses on the railroad tracks, cyclists on their way to the station or railroad cars on the rails. Sometimes, the plays she concocts are a never-ending theater taking place on a stage at the heart of a square; at other times she raises her actors to truly perilous heights, such as onto the branches of autumnal trees, as in Motzstraße.

            Setter uses the photographs of the real Berlin to create an art all her own; to confront reality and art. She sets her Berlin in motion as a private platform for her ideas about painting, photography, and collage. 
In a late morning hour of an Israeli summer day, the door to Ronnie Setter's home opened and I was exposed to illuminated works containing staged scenes from the novel Emil and the Detectives. The boxes held photographs of Berlin squares and streets that she knows all so well. On the living room walls I caught the sight of another light which lured me, a work ostensibly unrelated to the present exhibition penetrated my world without asking for permission, time or place. The distance between me and the photographic piece on the living room wall grew shorter. "It all started with Ophelia," Setter explained, "a series that began seven years ago, and was never exhibited. These are staged self-portraits, photographed in color which was subsequently manipulated and reduced to black-and-white."

            The encounter with Ophelia was spontaneous and even surprising. She stood before me in black-and-white, lying vertically in a black colored plastic tub, filled with water and aquatic plants. The photographs were subsequently placed in light boxes framed with bleached wood. Originally, these were color photographs in Gustav Klimt's art-nouveau style. The photograph acted like painting. Setter treated every leaf and flower, every detail, as if she had painted it with her brush.

            Ophelia represents part of Setter's reflections and academic writing in her doctoral studies in philosophy about theories in art comprehension. Quotations such as "Do I dare?", and others from Derrida and Heidegger, are etched on the photograph. She draws, engraves and paints the quoted sentences. She feels she must touch upon the material, leave her imprint, her signature on the work.

            Up until that morning visit to Setter's home we discussed mainly the theme of her Berlin-centered exhibition, Erich Kästner, her being a pianist, and the reason for her frequent visits to Berlin. The encounter with Setter's works addressing Emil and the Detectives took place via LED-illuminated boxes, as a continuation of the Ophelia light boxes. Twenty-five urban works based in Berlin were selected for the exhibition. Each was named after a street or a square in the city. Setter feels affection for these chosen sites with which she is so intimately familiar. The idea to use the book of her youth to illustrate her love of art and of Berlin was accidental. She strives to bring together reality and art, the city of Berlin and her works. She employs her own Berlin as a private platform for her ideas about the meaning of art today.

            Setter creates her beauty within the beauty of Berlin. She invests herself in the creation of a scene consisting of an urban occurrence, where cars hover alongside human figures, partly printed and partly composed of children's toys. She plans and organizes them all around Alexanderplatz, selecting the figures' coloration, planning the composition, adding drawings and handwritten words, and only then, when she is certain that all is wholly satisfactory, she glues everything to the surface of the work which is printed on milky transparency, taking the work to the box maker, and from there to the electrician to install the LEDs that have become so fashionable in recent years. Finally, she returns to the frame builder and seals this lively scene in Alexanderplatz with glass, thereby extinguishing the spark of their life and determining their fate. Only then, once all the participants have become objects on display in an aquarium of sorts, she connects the electric cable, and turns on the stage light in her theater of life.

            The acts of writing and drawing inside the works are part of the artist's signature, her quintessential handwriting, expressing flashes of ideas arising momentarily and registered eternally: such as a street's or a girl's nickname, a quote from Heidegger or her own insights. The links are built within the scene, as the artist gives free reign to intuitive feelings that will lead her to the finishing line of composition construction.

            Setter endeavors to say something about the work of art which appears purposeful and is her raison d'être. She believes that art is eternal, and therefore invests all her time in the creation of total, beautiful art.

            All the works in the exhibition are lit. Each of the depicted scenes is directly or indirectly connected to the story of Emil and the Detectives whose plot has fascinated many generations of teenage readers, giving them a feel for the old days long gone. In retrospect, these days appear romantic, if one can disregard the events that took place in the same city a mere three years later. To some respect, the period is mirrored in Setter's works. The works portray Berlin as a bustling city with lively culture, and beautiful children and adults in the streets. (One is left to wonder whether these are the same people who later wore German uniform). Setter captivates the viewer with her works so he may view the city through the eyes of an Israeli artist.