Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Tamy Ben-Tor

Art in Review; Tamy Ben-Tor
from the New York Times

Published: December 30, 2005

Exploration in the Domain of Idiocy
Zach Feuer
530 West 24th Street, Chelsea
Through Jan. 14
With her chameleonesque ability to transform herself into hilarious characters, the Israeli performance artist Tamy Ben-Tor could have a career in television like that of the similarly gifted Tracey Ullman.

Unfortunately, though it has good moments, the video featured in the main gallery looks like a labored effort to be more serious. Titled ''Girls Beware,'' it is an obscure and not very funny montage spoofing an Israeli public-service message advising girls to beware of Arab seducers and abductors.

Things are much funnier in the back gallery, where the perhaps less momentous theme is self-absorption. In a series of brief, talking-head portraits, Ms. Ben-Tor plays a hysterical construction contractor and a profoundly narcissistic conceptual artist who may remind you of more than one pretentious careerist you've known. In the astoundingly irreverent ''Women Talk About Adolf Hitler,'' a series of characters deliver harebrained thoughts about Hitler.

During the run of her exhibition, Ms. Ben-Tor is doing regular live performances. Last month she performed at the Upper East Side gallery Salon 94, playing, among other characters, a European professor discoursing on xenophobia and anti-Semitism and an American gospel singer singing out against Holocaust denial.

Ms. Ben-Tor may be too smart for the mainstream entertainment industry, but unlike, say, the young Matthew Barney, she is not so invested in the conventions of gallery art as to convince you that the visual art world is where she belongs. It will be interesting to see where she goes from here. KEN JOHNSON

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