Hilla Ben Ari is a Tel Aviv-based multidisciplinary artist creating mainly in video, sculpture, installation and print. The central theme of her works is the female body, which serves as a metaphorical junction where private, social and political conventions, restrictions and constructs are fused together.
Ben Ari has had solo exhibitions in central Israeli museums, such as Ticho House – The Israel Museum, the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Museum of Art, Ein Harod. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions in leading museums and galleries both locally and abroad, including the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (Israel), the Orange County Museum of Art (California, U.S.), the MAXXI Museum - National Museum of 21st Century Art (Italy), and the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (Taiwan) as part of the 2009 Asian Art Biennial.
Ben Ari’s videos were exhibited in international festivals, including the Videonale 12 at the Bonn Museum of Art (Bonn, Germany), the 18th Japan Media Arts Festival at the National Art Center (Tokyo, Japan), Body + Camera Festival, Mana Contemporary (Chicago, U.S.), Optica - International Video Art Festival (Spain) and Loop Festival (Barcelona, Spain).
Her works are featured in the collections of The Israel Museum, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Bundestag, Berlin and other public as well as private collections.
Throughout the years of her practice, Ben Ari has been awarded prizes such as: The Prize for an Established Video Artist - the Israeli Ministry of Culture (2016), the Pins Prize – The Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2016), The Premio Combat Prize, Italy (2016), The Kolb Prize – Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2014). Ben Ari is the recipient of grants and scholarships from funds such as AICF, Artis, Asylum Arts, Outset Contemporary Art Fund, the Ostrovsky Family Fund, and more.
Raising questions regarding the body’s boundaries and limitations, she places the female figures in her video works in nearly impossible postures. Thus, the body – trapped between virtuosic flexibility and the painful strain of holding its posture – appears to be nearly frozen, as though it’s a still image. These challenged female bodies in her oeuvres are both the subject and medium she uses to explore the tension between private and collective identities.
Ben Ari’s corpus maintains an ongoing dialogue with the creative fields of theatre and dance performance, thus creating an intersection between visual arts and performing arts. As a choreographer of stillness, Ben Ari investigates the relationship between movement and sound, collaborating with dancers and musicians to carry out her vision.
In recent years, Ben Ari’s practice has focused on archival research. Exploring the work of forgotten Israeli artists, Ben Ari has created a trilogy in tribute to the work of three different creators, highlighting the gender-related, mythical, historical and social aspects of their craft and the intergenerational connection she has formed with them.
One chapter of Ben Ari’s trilogy is a tribute to Nahum Benari, her great uncle – a writer and one of the founders of Israel’s Ein Harod Art Museum. In her video installation Naamah (2015), Ben Ari created a visual interpretation of a lost play he wrote in 1951, turning a rather marginal character into a protagonist and subverting the content of the work to elicit new thoughts and meanings about gender and community.
The second chapter of the trilogy is Rethinking Broken Lines (2017), a video installation presented at the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary art in which Ben Ari explored questions of gender, time and space through a dialogue with the works of the pioneering choreographer Heda Oren.
The latest chapter of the trilogy, currently on view in Jerusalem Ticho House – The Israel Museum, is The Voice that Calls to Itself (2021-2022). The project, a multi-channel video installation, generates a conversation with papercuts created by the artist Moshe Reifer in the 1930s and grapples with themes such as trauma, otherness and identity.
Through these research-driven, multidisciplinary projects, Ben Ari rethinks cultural narratives. By simultaneously tracing and deconstructing the mythical dimensions of the works of bygone artists, she establishes a new affinity to the body and the story it tells.