Islamic Art treasures in Europe (2008)
Television series (4 x 30 min), NIO, Nederland 2
"God is Beautiful and Loves Beauty", Beauty and utility go hand in hand; they are two inseparable aspects of perfection, as envisaged by the Prophetic tradition: "God has prescribed perfection in all things". It is connected with the concept of ihsan as set forth in the Hadith of Gabriel, whereby the religion rests on three fundamental principles: Islam (submission to the Divine Will), Iman (faith), and Ihsan. Ihsan may be translated as 'spiritual virtue' or simply virtue, and includes the ideas of beauty and perfection. More exactly it means inward beauty, beauty of the soul or of the heart, which necessarily emanates outwards, transforming every human activity into an art and every art into the remembrance of God.
Three museums in three European metropolis namely: London - British Museum, Berlin – The Pergamon Museum and Paris - the Louvre Museum house a treasure of exquisite beauty and value of Islamic art from the 7th century Umayyads and Abbasid period throughout the Fatimid, the Seljuk till modern times, from architecture to scientific objects, miniature paintings, calligraphy, pottery, textiles etc.
In 4 documentaries, of 30 min, in each museum, we will have an overview of the collection, exploring its diversity its historical and geographical origin as well as its spiritual and practical value, and its influence on western aesthetic and form.
By means of interviews with art historian and specialized curator and artists of an Islamic background, we will walk in the path of Islamic art history and its transaction and relation with the west and the specific culture of the country that house the collection.
We will also take a look at the city that house the museum and take a glimpse of its inhabitant and their environment.
Then we deepen our view in to one specific object of art from the collection, concentrating at the spiritual, poetic and musical meaning of the specific object as well as its historical and practical meaning.
Finally we experience a journey into the exquisite, the delicate and the knowledge and wisdom of a cultural expression of civilization.
"Islamic Art treasures in Europe"
Television series in 4 parts, NIO, Nederland 2
Film (67 min)
"…Stepping in and out of character while trolling around an elegant Dutch theater augmented by life-sized video projections of a modern production of The Merchant of Venice, actor Cahit Olmez is decidedly, not just talking about plays and acting. Addressing us, his audience, Olmez excavates Tubal, a minor but freighted Shakespearean creation, the only friend of Merchant's notorious Semitic villain, Shylock. Tubal grants Olmez fresh access to Shylock, and the scars of the Elizabethan eras rampant anti-Semitism. And though Shakespeare may never have known a Jew, Shylock's tragic dimension has given rise to an unsettling ambiguity winding through centuries of theatrical history to this moment: a provocative meta-theatrical venture seeking nothing less than the chance to set Shylock free…"
Robert Avila, Mill Valley film festival, 2009
"…Over the centuries, Shakespeare's Shylock has been played both to the grossest of anti-Semitic types, and with sympathy and compassion. A new cinematic interpretation lends an extra measure of understanding to the character…"
"…Shabtay's movie certainly adds many layers of thought to this well-known and yet very much unknown story about theater and life, Jews and others, small and big parts…"
Michael Handelzalts, Haaretz Books, July 2008
Joodse Omroep, Nederland 2
Rachid Koraichi: A Portrait (2006)
Film (15 min)
"…A Nation in Exile - kalligrafische tentoonstelling werk van de van oorsprong Algerijnse, maar in Parijs wonende kunstenaar Rachid Koraichi (1947), in samenwerking met Mahmoud Darwish (Palestijnse dichter) en Hassan Massoudy (Irakese kalligraaf). Het werk heeft als (kalligrafische) beeldtaal een aantrekkelijk uiterlijk en de grote diversiteit aan media waarin hij die taal tot uitdrukking brengt roept nieuwsgierigheid en bewondering op…”
Rob Perrée, SBK
God Seekers (2002)
Film (60 min)
Contemporary Israeli artists are mostly atheists. Living in Tel-Aviv with its pure secular recreational culture. These artists don't even share parents memories of Jewish tradition; Nevertheless, the 1970's have shown ambivalent, even paradoxical, awakening of a pseudo-religious interest, when the name of God keeps reappearing in various Israeli post-conceptual works
As the phenomenon of secular Israeli artists struggling to come to grips with their Jewish identity become increasingly evident. The film attempts to shed light on this phenomenon and to place it in relation to the tradition of depiction of the divine and the affinity with Jewish cultural history. A number of questions serve as background; how does the Israeli artist come to terms with the word-centered Jewish culture?
To what extent does art consider itself a secular alternative to the worship of god?
How can a national identity be Compatible with religious identity?
In this troubled country struggling for cultural and political character there may be a special significance in the increasing fascination with the primal source in whose image we were all created.
Die Ook (2001)
Film (15 min)
"…In his Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession, Oz Almog raises the alienating and provocative question about who and what is Jewish, and why it matters. In this multitude of portraits, presenting the broad range that may be described as Jewish. He confronts visitors with the question as to what Anne Frank and Jesus, Bob Dylan and Fred Astaire, Mr. Spock and Albert Einstein, Frida Kahlo and Madeleine Albright could possibly have in common…"
Installation, Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam
"…A collection of keywords and quotes from the Bible, Jewish literature and poetry combined in a personal lexicon with concepts associated with The factious promise versus the reality of a land…"
"…De belofte geeft in het overzichtelijke van een persoonlijke ervaring en in het universele van een zoektocht naar die beleving door de eeuwen heen, een beeld van een ervaring…"
"…en het is er, ontroerend, hoogstpersoonlijk in het Heimwee dat uit dat hart ontsnapte, een simpel lijstje met de data 'In' en 'Out'…"
De Volkskrant, December 15, 1997
"…De installatie, getiteld 'De Belofte' is een gewaagd openingsstuk. Door een combinatie van tekst, beeld en geluid is het een heel toegankelijk kunstwerk geworden, waarbij het persoonlijke politiek is en omgekeerd…"
Susanne Levy, NIW, December 19, 1997
The Henny Penny Picture Book & other Stories (1992)
Video and Installation, Amsterdam
"…Henny Penny de kip en haar vrienden de haan, de eend, de gans en de kalkoen gaan de koning vertellen dat de hemel naar beneden valt…"
"…In een enorme kippenren in de achterzaal van Galerie W139, laat Shabtay een gevederd gezelschap rondscharrelen, waarin 5 videokastjes staan. De videobeelden vertellen elk een eigen verhaal: over Henny Penny, hoogstandjes in de ruimtevaarttechniek, het oorlogsgeweld en de groeiende intolerantie tussen de verschillende bevolkingsgroepen. Door een koptelefoon op te zetten, wordt de toeschouwer een horende…"
Video (13 min)
"…Elegy could be described as surprisingly intriguing. After all, what viewer would feel at ease with a gun pointed at him? Based on William Blake's text, the confrontation is set between a work of art and the viewer as the central theme of this production…"
Song of Songs (1986)
Video-staging (60 min)
A video play intended for a live audience. It was first performed in the Shaffy Theater in Amsterdam in September 1986.
"…As a series of love poems, 'Song of Songs' has no linear plot, yet an evident dramatic structure leads us from one situation to the next. The chosen form is of an expressive metaphoric character…"
"…The performance Song of Songs is of a very accomplished mechanical level expressing emotional relations with the erotic tradition of the East, especially where women are concerned, by means of cool video images and sometimes complex stage-directions…"
"…With nine monitors on stage, eight of which are manipulated by performers dressed in black, this project was inspired by the old testament Song of Songs, a series of sensual poems about love, its rituals and ceremonies…"
Pim Jonker, Mediamatic
Video (12 min)
"…In Monodrama, a highly aesthetic video production, a train journey is the occasion and starting point for a smooth compelling tale, in which a man and the sea slowly acquire firmer contours. When the train jolts cautiously over the points, a voice whispers 'Encore' and after the end 'Et pour toujours'…"
Pas de Deux (1984)
Video (15 min), Time Based Arts, Amsterdam
"…And as we stray further from love
We multiply the words,
Words and sentences so long and orderly.
Had we remained together
We could have become a silence…"
L'Odalisque Mécanique - Amour Endormi (1984)
Video Installation (13 min)
"…A simple, charming tableau on the festival that demonstrated her subtle sense of humor. Surrounded by sixteen slide and film projector becomes a splendid, sensual contradiction. Both the world of man's inventions and the unforgiving realm of nature were resolved in the placid glance of the odalisque…"
"…A 13 minute presentation of 'Amour endormi', an example of what is called time-based or video art…"
Shabtay is one of eight Dutch artists whose work will be presented in a lecture sponsored by the UI Museum of Art and the School of Art and Art History in the museum.
Scott Williams, The Daily Iowan - Iowa City, February 20, 1985