The work Dear, emerged from a simple yet exceptional request: over the course of the past year, the artist contacted fifteen different museums and galleries in Israel and New York, and asked them for the permission to activate an iRobot device inside their exhibition halls. Once the permission was given to her, Serfaty expropriated the human viewer from its point of view on the space and deposited it in the mechanical device.
By affixing a GoPro camera on top of the automatic vacuum cleaner she gathered video footage. The video work compiled from this footage evokes an unprecedented de familiarization of the exhibition space.
The spectator’s eye level is lowered to a seven centimeters height – the height of the camera eye, which is directed upwards. This displacement forces us to apperceive the bare architectural structure of the exhibition space. Instead of looking at the artworks, we now gaze at their constantly moving superstructure, whilst the random and circular movements of the iRobot create a vertigo – we are deprived of the option to orientate ourselves in the space in front of us, we can not choose on what to focus. The sovereignty of our gaze was turned over to the iRobot.
One of the exhibition spaces chosen by Serfaty to run the iRobot is the Tel Aviv Museum. She placed it right in the corridor between the old building and the new one. This decision to dwell on the passage between the old and the new raises questions: What turns a space into an exhibition space? How does our constant need to change and expand the exhibition spaces around us change our way of perceiving reality, even if we do not notice it?
Because the device is rounded, it cannot reach corners. As a tribute to the iRobot’s performance, and in an attempt to blur its mechanical weakness, Serfaty, has rounded the corners of the space that presents her work. The rounding of the corners could enable the iRobot to reach every spot on the floor and perform perfectly what it was made for – to make a place clean.
And yet, its activation in the museum exhibition space – which is perceived as a clean place anyhow, free of unwanted traces – confronts us with another question: How does the act of using a mechanical device expose us to something in the space that was never meant to be seen?