Ideal Viewer, 2009
Ideal Viewer, is an installation consisting of several elements, among them video and performance. An actress seated on the gallery floor observes her “reflection” on a small video screen located above a large plasma screen which is shattered on the floor, incessantly crying bitterly. Fixed to the wall above her are two plasma screens, identical to the broken one, intermittently presenting two monologues by a pair of actors who address the viewer directly, against the backdrop of abstract paintings, which alternate during the dialogue.
The work process, including the phase of pinpointing the actors and the abstract paintings, was carried out entirely Online. The actors had no preliminary idea about either their or the other actors’ exact roles. Each was given a general role description, without a given text, and was asked to perform in total improvisation. Thus, the two men who perform monologues fabricate the entire text. The role description given to one was to depict the artist’s ex-boyfriend, whereas the other was entrusted with the role of interpreting and elucidating the work for the viewers.
Ostensibly, it is the actors mediating between the artist and the viewers who constitute the “work”; in effect, however, the work is the live dialogue between the “art” and the “viewer,” since both male monologues turn directly to the viewer, introducing a question about his role in relation to the “work of art.” Breaching the boundaries of communication between the “artwork” and the “viewer” is manifested differently, mainly in direct speech and in directing questions at the viewer. The figure of the “commentator” likewise asks us to consider its role; further questioning what is the role of the weeping actress? Why does she cry? etc.
In this work Amir challenges the boundaries of the concept “artwork” by creating the image, its mode of observation, its interpretation and criticism, which are generally assigned to the viewer. Consequently, the viewer is left with an acute question about his role vis-à-vis contemporary art, and in view of the expectation and irony embodied in the work’s title: Ideal Viewer. The title echoing in the background, elicits a twofold desire in the viewer: on the one hand, a desire to justify his “role definition” and to function “rightly” and “properly” with regard to the work of art, namely to try and interpret and comprehend it; on the other hand, it elicits a sense of irony and criticism with regard to our role as viewers: What is left for us to do in view of this absurd drama? What is the viewer’s role vis-à-vis a contemporary work of art? What may at all be expected of a “standard” viewer who is not “ideal”?