Where Science Meets Art

Benni Efrat
"Time Crack"
The David Lopatie Conference Centre, Weizmann Institute of Science

Here Come the Days
Benni Efrat, Time Crack, David Lopatie International Conference Centre, Weizmann Institute of Science

Benni Efrat doesn’t hide from the tidings. His time cracks are ticking seconds to a dismal future. From his point of view there is no great significance to the question of whether time runs forward or in a backwards countdown. In 1998, at the same time that Mimi Leder’s Deep Impact was being screened in theaters, Benni Efrat exhibited, together with the poet Ronny Somek, Nature’s Factory, 2046, which was curated by Dr. Shlomit Shaked, in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Leder’s film showed the end of the world coming as a sort of whim of the Universe that humankind was powerless to prevent. The exhibit also depicted the approaching end – brought about by our own actions, our flawed relationship with our environment and the Earth.
In his new exhibit, currently by Yivsam Azgad in the David Lopatie International Conference Centre at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Efrat continues to sound the alarm, warning us that we are heading for disaster.  That the world cannot withstand our industrial abuse very much longer. That “advance” is not one of the environment’s considerations -- it is just a temporary illusion. That it is just a question of time – of spreading cracks in the flow of time we experience -- until we pass the point of no return in our relationship with the world in which we live. Smokestacks of all shapes and sizes emit “unpleasant” substances into the only atmosphere we have. The polar ice caps are melting and shrinking; the Dead Sea is drying up; the forests are “deforested” for short-term gain. And above all, tales of despair continue to be told, and the clocks of all countries continue to tick and to dole out slivers of time – advancing us to the finish line.
Benni Efrat (1940) was one of the first conceptual artists in Israel. He was born in Lebanon, and made Aliyah to Israel at age 11, growing up on Kibbutz Yagur. After completing studies at the Avni Institute of Art and Design, he moved to London, where he studied at Saint Martin's School of Art. He then moved to New York and then to Paris at the invitation of the Pompidou Center, which granted him a studio for two years. He then moved to Amsterdam and then to Antwerp, finally returning to Israel in 2009.
In 1976, he mounted a mixed video exhibit entitled Putney Bridge at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). There he met Carl Sagan and Phillip Morrison, who drew his attention to the question of ecology and the environment. Efrat began in investigate, to become aware of the ecological holocaust that humanity is bringing upon itself. In 1982, he sent a letter to museums and curators all over the world writing: “I request to fix the expected date of my death, 2030, as a starting point for dating my work.” Thus, a future date has been included in the name of every work since.
Efrat tries to move forward in time and send us messages from the future, in the hopes that his future self can get the idea through to us that we should stop and think, forego something today in order to give something to tomorrow.