Je t’aime, Ronit Elkabetz: Dreams from the wardrobe
I truly believe clothes have a spirit and a soul, so it’s important to me to care for them and then let them go when the time comes. After they have travelled a long way with me, I allow them to continue on, like a story or a film that needs to go on with its own life. Ronit Elkabetz.
Ronit Elkabetz (1964-2016) was an Israeli and international icon, an actress, screenwriter and director as well as a social activist for women’s rights in general and Mizrahi women in particular, and an artist’s muse. In her work she combined center and periphery, fashion and art, Be’er Sheva, Kiryat Yam and Tel Aviv – Mogador, Paris, Israel and the world, creating characters that have been etched onto social and cultural consciousness.
The exhibition Je t’aime, Ronit Elkabetz grew from research of Ronit Elkabetz’s wardrobe. The collection, comprising upwards of 500 items meticulously collected and stored in Tel Aviv and Paris over four decades, was donated generously by the Yashar and Elkabetz families. Research into the items reveals a time capsule encompassing Elkabetz’s life, allowing us a profound look into her existence, in dialogue with the world of cinema. Every garment contains story, memory, attribution. Items pristinely folded and bound in white silk paper, accompanied by hand-written notes as if anticipating this treasure being discovered at some later time, were found in her wardrobe. Each item signifies a milestone in Elkabetz’s rich biography and together they make up a collection of considerable cultural-spiritual value.
The exhibition invites viewers into a lucid dream following Ronit Elkabetz. The ravishing collection of garments she left behind has been reborn in the form of 90 ensembles, reassembled into scenes combining her clothes, sets and sound design, video art works and requisites, alongside the cinematic, theatrical and artistic productions that are the cornerstones of her biography.
Garments in the exhibition signify the world Elkabetz created, visiblizing and fostering otherness in order to create new standards – to illuminate the other and make it visible and unforgettable. Elkabetz was simultaneously far from the fashion world and at its very center, creating new objects for the gaze. Under her hands, dress became a living performance, simultaneously representing how we are viewed and the way we view ourselves.
Ronit Elkabetz’s glittering ability to formulate dreams, identity and power through cloth was and continues to be a source of inspiration and power to women and men everywhere. Onscreen, onstage, on the red carpet and in her private life, she has allowed us to dream of another reality – and make it reality.
Art Decor: Ehud Gutterman | Fashion Sculptor: Victor Bellaish | Research Consultants: Yigal Nizri, Itzik Badash | Construction: Yoav Graphics & Exhibitions | Artistic Collaborators: David Adika, Uziel Amir, Paula Bianco, Betty Eldad, Ronen Levin, Yaniv Persy | Graphic Design: Kobi Franco Design, Zohar Koren| Video Art: Shlomi Elkabetz | Video Production: Galit Cahlon | Video Editing: Lev Goltser, Etamar Kadusheviz | Sound Design and Editing: Itzik Cohen, Jungle Sound | Online: Yoav Raz, Edit Studios | Lighting: Avi Dasberg | Sound: Net Kol | Lighting Equipment: Utopia | Hair Styling: Avi Malka | Wigs: Rivka Zahavi | Textual Consulting: Tamar Tauber-Pauzner PhD. | Translation: Ishai Mishory
Images © Design Museum Holon. Photographer Shay Ben-Efraim.