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Rivka Rinn or Liu or some(any)one else

Hou Hanru


1. Rivka Rin born in Sun Prairie district, Wisconsin, to a family related to Ida van Eyck the mother of georgia Toto O´Keeffe …

So reads a CV by certain artist, which constitutes a part of her present triptych work; the second part of the work is another CV of the same artist: 


 Born in Nepal to a Polish diplomat and a Russian mother who serted the Tibetian tradition of curing into her medicine practice. Her additional name is Liu, given to her after the name of the martyr in Puccini´s Turandot...


Then the third part, situated in between the texts, is a collage of two photographs taken from running trains, one black and white – overlaps over another – coloured, or, more exactly, the first thrusts into a tunnel and breaks the later, a springlike landscape. It is an accident, a collision, a collision, an unsolvable conflict..

The juxtaposition of the two different, contradictory CV of the same artist is also a part of the accident.

Actually, such a kind of collision and conflict is the very foundation of this piece, as well as that of the whole body of the work by the same artist, Rivka Rinn or Liu. The collision and conflict, as a form of being, evoke an enormous pleasure and convey an exciting experience in life, or, a moment of insight, a revelation of some incredible possibility of freedom.

In fact, Rivka Rinn´s work has always been related closely to her experience, her constant travels throughout the world, from Israel to Austria, from Japan to Italy, from America back to Israel …

In other words, travel is her way of living, as a woman, an artist, a friend and an observer of the world. Her life is a nomadic one, and nomad offers her innumerable chances to discover the world and herself. As permanent displacements between given geopolitical cultural frames and transitions between fixed, static identifications it also provides her an outlet to overcome and transcend the unsolvable contradictions and conflicts …

However, today, nomad as a way of living still has no place in our society although for both practical and spiritual reasons one must travel much more frequently than ever. Nomad is the opposition of most social structures in history, especially the modern one, which has been constructed on a stable hierarchy. One´s role in social life and productive activities has hence been strictly defined and congealed, and the boundary between the self and the other is hopelessly insurmountable. Freedom becomes actually impossible although freedom as an abstract notion has been officially recognized as an elementary right. The establishment of modern institutional discourses ans administration guarantees and enforces such a social decision. And, of course, nomad as a way of being, along with all the surprises and pleasure of discovery, imagination and creation given birth on the rout of nomad, can ever be recognized; instead, it is condemned to be oppressed

and even eliminated. But, it is in such a situation that nomad becomes a way of resistance. It is also here that Rivka Rinn´s emphasis on displacements, travels and nomad life in her art work, becomes relevant, necessary and inevitable.

No doubt, art in Rivka Rinn´s search for its nomadity has refound its connection with real life because nomad is now becoming an efficient and hopeful strategy to fight against oppressions of the established institutional machine, and, more importantly, to conceive innovative projects for a free(er) society in the future. In such a perspectives one can understand perfectly Rinn´s idea to compose and exhibit parallely to different Cvs of herself: it is a new way to comprehend and interpret the notion of identity in order to confront with the coming of a future in which nomad life and universal communications will probably take the place of the established social structure. Identifying simultaneously with two Cvs, or with two different personalities, means to refuse to be fixed by the established social hierarchy. Transition, instead of fixation, becomes a new basis of cultural identity of our time.


2. Another aspect related to travel and nomadic life in Rinn´s work is speed, or, in her own word, velocity. Velocity, as Paul Virilio has argued, is changing fundamentally our experience and notion of time and space, and, more importantly, intensifying and improving global communication. Travel , or nomadism makes our experience of velocity even more articulated. In her work, Rinn tries to grasp and emphasis such an experience, catching every curious moment, every surprise on her speedy displacements, by train, by car or by airplane. They are the most peculiar visions that one can never have without experiencing contemporary ways of travel. 

On the other hand, one should not forget that velocity as a new form of being is also a deconstructive power in our time because, in the process of restructuring social, cultural, economic and political order, it is creating a totally unknown way of existence which makes the established one no longer legitimate. The importance of transition in contemporary cultural reidentification, as pointed out above , is here once again proved. A new reality is being formed. Precisely in the visualization of such a new reality transition plays its role most efficiently as we can find in Rivka Rinn´s visions into a new entity of image (and text), she actually tries to dig a tunnel, a transition, between the real and the imaginary, between the defined and the undefined, between the banal and the novel, between light and darkness …

All together this leads to a deconstruction of the established order, along with its way of visualization, its system of representation.

Again, art makes freedom possible.


3. Rivka Rinn´s Jewish background is ignorable if one aims to understand her work profoundly, especially at the moment of Yitzhak Rabin´s murder and the crucial turning point in the Middle East peace process. Reflections on the Jewish Self (identity) and its relation with the Other become an imminent issue, an engagement and even a responsibility, not only for those who are directly concerned in the affair but also for all the people who feel indispensable to learn how to cohabitate with the other.

In history, Jews have always been victims of marginalizations in all societies, especially in the religious orientated regimes. Such a kind of marginalization is due to a need of centralization of power; and one of the basic conditions for the centralization is the marginalization of the Other.

The Jews, because of historical and ideological reasons and their insistence on their own identity as the only possibility of survival, have been condemned to live on the edge of the society although their intellectual, economical and cultural contributions to the society although their intellectual, economical, and cultural contributions to the society have been the most remarkable.

The Jews are hence destined to live a permanent nomad life, in perpetual displacements and transitions. However, the Jewish destiny is not only the one for the Jew but also a universal one. As far as marginalization exists in a society, the society will need a Jew, the Other; and the Jewish destiny will be sustained. The problem, today, is how to go beyond such a historical content, such an antagonism between the centre and the margine, between the Self and the Other.

Here we can discover an absolutely formidable fact, without losing a good sense of humour: if displacement and transition have the essential strategy for the Jew to survive and to preserve its identity in the past, than it is also, ironically, this strategy which can help us resolve the historically unsolvable problems, especially the impossibility of the coexistence with the other. Travels, displacements bring us to different worlds, put us in communications with the Other and change thoroughly our concept of identity. 

We will be able to recognize that identity and identification in our time of velocity should be rebuild on the base of transition, on constant opening towards the Other. Rivka Rinn´s work, through her own experience as a Jew, as someone who is born to endure the universal human destiny, has most profoundly evoked the message: shouldn't we try to imagine a new way of life, a life of transition, as the starting point of our project for the future?


Paris, November 1995

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