Petzel is pleased to present Yael Bartana’s narrative film Malka Germania (2021), on view March 9th to April 15th, 2023 at the gallery’s Chelsea location. Malka Germania investigates the longing for collective redemption for German and Jewish histories as a response to an age of anxiety.
Malka Germania is Hebrew for “Queen Germany.” The name references a female designation for the Messiah: Malka Meshichah, or the “Anointed Queen.” In Bartana’s film, a new androgynous Messiah, Malka Germania, joins forces with the Israeli Army to liberate Berlin from its collective traumas, memories, and inherited pasts.
The 3-channel video portrays Malka as she walks through Berlin’s haunted landscape, revisiting historical events that seamlessly blend with contemporary scenes. The film weaves subconscious elements through surreal hallucinations, the biblical and mystical to leave questions of redemption, national myths and collective identities for the viewer to contemplate.
Yael Bartana’s films, installations and photographs explore the imagery of identity and the politics of memory. Her starting point is the national consciousness propagated by her native country of Israel. Central to the work are meanings implied by terms like “Homeland”, “Return” and “Belonging”. Bartana investigates these terms through the ceremonies, public rituals and social diversions that are intended to reaffirm the collective identity of the nation state. In her Israeli projects, Bartana deals with the impact of war, military rituals and a sense of threat to everyday life. In 2006, the artist worked in Poland to create projects on the history of Polish-Jewish relations and its influence on the contemporary Polish identity. In 2011, Yael Bartana represented Poland for the 54th International Art Exhibition in Venice.
Malka Germania was commissioned by and premiered at the Jewish Museum in Berlin in 2020 as part of Bartana’s survey exhibition Redemption Now. Bartana has had numerous solo exhibitions including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia the Jewish Museum, Berlin; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Secession, Vienna; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Moderna Museet in Malmö; the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw; MoMA PS1, New York; and the Kunstverein in Hamburg. She has also participated in such prestigious group shows at James Cohan Gallery, New York; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; São Paulo Biennial; documenta 12, Kassel; among many others.