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MIMESIS | Moran Kliger

In her solo exhibition Mimesis, artist Moran Kliger deals with the transition between culture and nature. She explores the tensions between the civilised and wild elements of the human psyche. Kliger’s work deals with hybridity and transformation. She creates a hybrid world somewhere between reality and imagination, creating a new, different environment.


The ‘primate’ drawings are a series of works examining the meeting point between man and ape. Where the border between man and animal becomes fluid and a hybrid, new creature is created. In these drawings, Kliger tries to enter the twilight zone of the human element, the place where man has not yet completely lost his animalistic element and vice versa.
The four large-scale drawings of human-apes are placed inside deep box frames, reminiscent of zoo cages or the dioramas found in nature museums. This creates the feeling that the viewer is walking through a zoo-type environment. Kliger challenges our perception of the hierarchies of the natural world. As the primates are larger than us it becomes unclear who controls whom. We humans, who are used to standing at the top of the evolutionary pyramid, now feel small in front of these creatures.
At first glance, we encounter a world that evokes a strange and unfamiliar feeling. We are not able to completely decipher what this creature is. Where does it come from? What is its environment? Is this ancient being related to us, or are we seeing a future, improved version of ourselves? However, the more we contemplate these creatures, they begin to evoke in us a sense of identification and empathy. We begin to recognise human aspects within them. We perceive a world that is unfamiliar, yet disturbingly similar, to ours. They engender feelings of both attraction and repulsion within us.
The primates have been taken out of their natural environment. They are presented in scenes taken from familiar Bible iconography (Old & New Testament), such as the expulsion from Garden of Eden, the binding of Isaac, the Holy Family and Jesus after the crucifixion. These are familiar scenes from archetypal cultural memory. The familiar biblical figures become hairy-hybrid creatures. This process reverses the established order and hierarchy, in which what is central becomes marginal, and the holy and pure becomes what we perceive as promiscuous and impure.


The circular landscape drawings are windows that offer glimpses into ancient worlds. These are places that are in a way nowhere and everywhere, places of primordial nature that contain, to varying degrees, hints of an approaching disaster but also of hope and renewal.
The landscapes evoke associations to ancient myths telling of acts of destruction and re-creation. They hint at the cycle of life and death, the unrelenting nature of change, the passing of time and the transience of life's existence.

Combined themes

In both the landscape and the primate drawings, questions of hierarchy arise. It is not clear who threatens whom. We, the primates (from the root word prime), are the first in rank, the pinnacle of creation. We are the strong ones who control the environment, sow destruction and exploit resources. Or is it nature that is in control, poised to engulf us in some disaster or another?
The landscapes of cliffs and rocks overshadowing streams of water evoke the divine myth of creation. On the other hand, the primate drawings suggest evolutionary associations that contradict that myth.


The representation of apes in Western culture are a frequent presence in art and literature, either due to their evolutionary closeness to humans or their impressive mimetic and cognitive abilities. In Western culture, the ape is generally seen as a symbol of a lesser form of humanity that embodies the baser qualities of man.
Kliger ponders the question: which is more human - we humans, the masters of the earth, or the natural world around us and the wild animals that exist harmoniously within it?

She says, “The works in this exhibition seek to echo our scars, flaws and weaknesses, our thoughts and fears, our struggles, but also our aspirations, our desire for a better place, where life’s potential is stronger.”

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