How orderly is this exhibit, built according to a computerized vision! Obviously preceded by planning and precise blueprints. Mimicking the thought process of an engineer, Leader has sliced the concept of the “house” into thin, transparent strips, and the space into a series of projections. The square room, model-like, hangs on a steel cable grid that pushes down the appearance of the ceiling and casts iron bars-like shadows across the walls. A carpet was created of push-pins, the same push-pins used by professional officers in headquarters to track the movements of soldiers on topographical maps. This professional orderliness is familiar to us from the work of other expert planners designing by-pass roads, apartheid walls, land expropriations, or the casting of cement blocks used to barricade roads. Professionals are needed to build a house.
The exhibit is square, like a modernist house, and set up in an historical space, a “bomb shelter” -- Once the space expropriated by the state for security reasons from each building, it now looks innocent in comparison to a larger network of smaller spaces allocated to the state in each and every apartment, the "apartmental safe space" which plays a more intimate part of living experiences and the construction of houses. -- converted into a gallery. As luck would have it in Spring 2003, the show remains under an immediate threat of removal. Once the sirens are sounded the state will once again re expropriate the space. Suddenly the gallery seems to play a similar role to Jewish National Fund "forests," whose job is to maintain a territory temporarily.
In the Hebrew Title to this installation, Bayit Effes, literally House Zero, Leader undertook a conceptual calibration nullifying the mathematical series (First Temple, Second Temple, Third Temple, in Hebrew Bayit Rishon, Bayit Sheni, Bayit Shlishi…). She has deconstructed the Israeli house to its design elements. A view of a window, a view of a chair, a view of the door – elements which have been simplified and flattened and only the planning behind them remains. And below: a platform of carton boxes, a rickety stage for a play, containers with no content, the makeshift homes of street dwellers – among these arises the house.
In our culture-society, in our local territory, the house has become a transparent concept. It has no existence outside national categories. Thus, the space of the house hangs between its obvious purpose of providing shelter to its residents – the house dreamed of, the house obtained, the bourgeois home – and the mound of rocks left behind by the armored bulldozer. Between the completeness of concrete and cement, and rooms blocked off by concrete – the “sealed room”. The semantic difference separating “the demolition of homes” and the “establishment of homes” is found not in words but in the corruption of language and thinking.
Israeli culture is built on the emphasized need for a house following the loss of the Jewish home in Europe, but does not recognize this home as a basic yearning of all human beings. The house which is undisputed is fragile, weak, symbolic and sterile against the backdrop of destruction at its base. Thus, the local icon packing the most meaning in our culture is the bulldozer - yellow/orange, a toy for children, or contractors.