Merchav is a joint project by Rami Maymon and Eyal Weiser, combining theater, video art, experimental cinema and installation, in which they have created a visual collage based on events from Israeli and German history. It tells the story of a family reconstructed through the testimony of a fictitious personality: Uriah Rein-Merchav. The space constructed by Maymon and Weiser functions as a stage for collective memory.
The appearance of the actor who plays Uriah resembles the fashion in Germany of the 1930s, his gender is indistinct and a woman's voice issues from his throat. The discrepancies between content and image in the work take place on several levels and function as action upon action: his mother's life story is delivered in her own voice, following her transformation from an ideologically-driven German girl who came to Kibbutz Mishmar Ha-Emek as a volunteer, into the widow of an Israeli young man killed on the way to conquering Beirut in the First Lebanon War. The director's instructions require Uriah to maneuver between two motivations: one, delivering the story from his mother's lips, and the other, contending with his own personal feelings towards the complex family story.
Maymon and Weiser create an infrastructure of form and content that describes how the victim turns into the victimizer, and the victimizer into the victim. Uriah's figure stands inside a clean, white and elegant space, which creates a distance from the historical event and from the personal drama. It's as if the whiteness wipes clean the personal bereavement and turns it into a generic national product.
The video Untitled (Black), which is shown simultaneously is made up of black-and-white negatives, sections from Merchav that were cut during the editing. Untitled (Black) functions as an alter ego for the main work. The work's aesthetics, prominently missing the whiteness of Merchav, brings to mind the high-contrast and geometrical appearance of German expressionist cinema. The shots focus on Uriah's performance, following his movements as he slowly ushers a black (now white) rope across the wall. This act exposes the central motif of Uriah's character, his attempt to tie together historical events with his family history. Gradually, an abstract image is constructed, a sort of seismograph of the fluctuations of his experience.