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Video still of The Undertaker (detail), 2019, by Yael Bartana

Video still of The Undertaker (detail), 2019, by Yael Bartana (Israeli, born 1970) Courtesy of Petzel Gallery, New York; Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam; and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel


The Undertaker by Yael Bartana

February 12–December 5, 2021

Watch the American debut of Yael Bartana’s latest film, staged and shot at sites across Philadelphia—including the museum, Independence Hall, and Laurel Hill Cemetery—as part of the artist’s 2018 public performance organized by the museum, Bury Our Weapons, Not Our Bodies!

Film Synopsis

The film chronicles an enigmatic leader and her armed followers during a choreographed procession and burial of weapons. Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy, plays a prominent role as this group of dancers, war veterans, and activists from a variety of local communities moves across the city’s charged historical landscape. Their procession and slow, deliberate gestures are grounded in the movements of Israeli dance composer Noa Eshkol (1924–2007), particularly her 1953 ceremonial performance in remembrance of the Holocaust. Rather than a memorial to the dead, Bartana’s symbolic burial is a monument for the living, an invitation to consider our bodies as both carriers of trauma as well as vehicles for hope and resistance.

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About the Artist

In her films, installations, photographs, and staged performances, Yael Bartana (born Israel, 1970) investigates subjects like national identity, trauma, and displacement, often through ceremonies, memorials, and public rituals. Her work has been exhibited worldwide, and is represented in the collections of many museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Modern, London; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. She currently lives and works in Berlin and Amsterdam.

Film Production Credits

Director and Editor Yael Bartana; Producer Naama Pyritz; Director of Photography Itai Neeman; Second Unit Director of Photography Mick van Rossum; Sound Designer Daniel Meir; Costume Designer Yael Shenberger; Art Director Shmuel Ben Shalom; Choreographers Ruti Sela and Mor Bashan from the Noa Eshkol Chamber Dance Group; Assistant Director Livnat Sela; Props Artisan Valerie Scarfone; Costume and Props Assistant Kierceton Keller; Prop Weapons Wrangler Ian Rose; Assistant Editor Lian Rotem; Color Correction PostFactory GmbH; Graphic Designers Avi Bohbot, Gila Kaplan; Research Itamar Gov; Assistant Producers Saskia Wendland, Esper Postma; Master of Ceremonies Olwen Fouéré; Dancers Jennifer Abrevaya, Benjamin Behrend, Lesley Berkowitz, Julianna Boylan, Daniella Brown, Erin Carney, Taylor Cawley, Sebastian Cummings, Angie Fennell, Adrianna Jimenez Gonzalez, Dana Herbert, Anita Holland, Leah Holleran, Briannon Holstein, Matthew John Janis, Jung-eun Kim, Amalia Wiatr Lewis, Jacqueline Rose Libby, Emma Manion, Jaime Maseda, Kayla Simone McGill, Kevin Meehan, Rhonda Moore, Sarah Muehlbauer, Mphoentle Ndaba, Chloe Marie Newton, Hillary Pearson, Paige Phillips, Vitche-Boul Ra, Gabrielle Revlock, Matthew Rios, Roberto Rodriguez-Garcia, Nia Simmons, Andrew Smith, Margot Steinberg, Katherine Sullivan, Dwayne Townsend, Haylee Warner, Sarah Warren, Emily White; Soldiers Itamar Gov, Brandon Straus, Kipp Roskom, Neil Nelson; Grave Diggers Michael Miller, John Carr


Thanks to all on-site mediators, volunteer participants, and outreach organizers, including Maureen Boland of Parkway Center City Middle College and Lovella Calica of Warrior Writers. A special thanks to the City of Philadelphia, Fairmount Park, Laurel Hill Cemetery, the National Park Service, and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. Production support provided by Natalia Rodriguez and Traction Company. Additional thanks to the staff of the Philadelphia Museum of Art who helped to bring this project to fruition, including Amanda Sroka, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art; and Chelsea Sanz, Performance Production Coordinator. The film was produced in association with Philadelphia Museum of Art. This film is made possible with the support of Mondriaan Fund, The Netherlands.

B&W headshot of artist Yael Bartana

Artist Yael Bartana. Photo by Itai Neeman, 2013 (Courtesy of the artist)


This installation has been made possible with support from the museum’s endowment, through the Daniel W. Dietrich II Fund for Excellence in Contemporary Art.

Original support for Bury Our Weapons, Not Our Bodies! was provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional generous contributions from the Wyncote Foundation, the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation, Keith L.* and Katherine Sachs, Lyn M. Ross, The Arlin and Neysa Adams Endowment Fund, Maxi D, and Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz.

* Deceased


Amanda Sroka, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art

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