ROOM LAUGHTER is a project for an independent space, presented in two stages: as an installation in an enormous space at 94 Yigal Allon street, in Tel Aviv in the first one, and, in the second stage, as a film accompanied by a catalogue.
ROOM LAUGHTER has originated in an image: a printer printing a poem in Arabic while sky-diving toward the earth.
Last June, the film was shot above a test site in the Mojave desert in California, thus physically consummating the image. The editing of the film and its soundtrack is expected to be completed in a year’s time.
The installation at Yigal Allon 94 presents a weakened version of the conditions of sky-diving. It comprises an office printer, which is suspended in the air in the middle of the huge space with cables strung from poles. On the floor around the printer stand industrial suction fans, all looking up, like petals. The printer is ejecting printed pages, one per second, and an air hose propels them upward, like a fountain, spreading them all around the space. Over time, the pages cover the floor, like dry leaves.
ROOM LAUGHTER is also the title of the printed poem. its writing began in 2013, in collaboration with my friend Jonathan Soen.
The poem is written in a long column that spreads over 31 pages. It is made up mostly of short parallels, in the fast rhythm of the printer. Its lines are arranged in diagonals, draining from the edges into the center of the page, like the veins on a leaf. The poem describes its condition of being printed, of diving, and the droopy patterns of things that are around and below it. It is a sequence of offensive diagnoses (of types, which can just be identified as Israeli), as well as expressions of self-agreement.
ROOM LAUGHTER is printed in Arabic, but written by someone who does not speak the language. Why?
Certainly not in order to be a social bridge, or to return home with the Jews of Arab descent. The poem implicates the Arabic language in whatever it is guilty of – its determination, its vulgarity, the systematic mediocrity of its writing (which the film is meant to complete when produced, as its final critique).
What does the writer stand to gain by showing his work in a language he does not understand? By blinding himself in his own house?
Is it just another opportunity for the victor to play the victim? In the words of the poem – to weep for himself from afar. Who owns the laughter in ROOM LAUGHTER?
Uri Nir, September 2019
Photos by: Oded Lobl