Digital visualization of the work installation “(r)evolving suspensions ” at the Ignatz Bubis Community; Centre space, based on a floor plan and images of the centre’s foyer provided by the Identity curatorial team.
Exploration and playfulness through art-related mediums have been part of my life and identity since early childhood. However, the fact that I grew up in a peripheral region of Israel to a Jewish Iraqi immigrant family set me at a distance from the urban art establishment; conversely, my aspirations to assimilate into that milieu contributed to the formation of a certain distance between myself and my own family’s cultural heritage. My reflections on this situation are not, however, intended as an attempt to reconnect with, recover or reanimate a “lost culture” but rather as a means to investigate and question the hybrid, multifarious culture I am now operating in — the way I understand, process and practise the creation and generation of visual imagery.
Our present era can be distinguished from other historical periods by the sheer amount of data to which we have access — the availability of and rapidity with which information can travel and be translated across disciplines and between places.
Physical spaces like museums and the concept of the white cube gallery are today’s conventional and ubiquitous spaces for presenting art and artefacts.
Over the past decade, these increasingly uniform spaces have reinforced the tendency for artworks to be produced for no specific space, intended for consumption by an unspecific audience — it should be possible to exhibit or display the work everywhere, and everyone around the world should be able to view it. Furthermore, digital media in general and the Internet in particular are the most immediate and common ways we consume visual information today. This has an enormous impact on the way we as individuals are able to perceive and appreciate, for example, imagery or artefacts. Within more traditional settings this can very often result in a decontextualized experience for the individual in the post-digital and post-Internet epoch.
This fragmentary, decontextualized experience is the space I investigate in my artistic process, through the use of data, whether it be a symbol, a reduced geometrical form or a code, derived from diverse and familiar or foreign sources. Today there exists an ever-growing international community in artistic, academic and urban centres that is devoted to creating, modelling, reflecting upon and subsequently being remodelled by new constellations of culture.
This corresponds to the dynamic transformation of our society through technology and media, not to mention the increasingly frequent movement of people and the mixture of cultures brought about by various forms of migration, both voluntary and forced. It is this contemporary mixed, fragmented and often contrasting society that I have long seen as my “home base”, in part due to its familiarity, as I grew up in Israel, a country that was, at the time, predominantly inhabited by first- to third-generation immigrants that were educated largely on foreign and imported European cultural values. The rich potential of such cultural convergence offers infinite inspiration for me to investigate new channels of perception, creation and communication of visual imagery through collective as well as individual expression and experiences using both digital and physical mediums.
Element out of the work “Imported Identity”: eight linocuts of the word “Sabra” in Hebrew, Arabic and Yiddish, 25 x 30 cm each, 2017.
Example of two collected images and symbols used in my artistic and visual exploration in recent years: a Ganesh statue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2016 (left); photo of a sabra plant from the abandoned Palestinian village Noris on Mount Gilboa, Israel, 2017 (right).
This mixed-media work is based on my on-going research into the concept and form of variations — exploring infinite visual existences of a singular object. The working process consists of the use of mixed techniques and materials: from sculptural structures made out of steel and nylon wires to flat imageproduction using collage, photography, printmaking and gestural drawing techniques, breaking the visual experience into layers of materials and meanings.
(r)evolving suspensions deals with the presentation of symbolic objects outside their natural habitat, while exploring collective perception, production and communication of classical and local iconographic characters as they are encountered in the visual and literary domains. The images comprising the work are a hybrid of two iconographic symbols I have been investigating visually and symbolically in recent years: the Sabra, a symbol of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a statue of a Ganesha from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, dealing with the post-colonialist museum presentation of non-Western artefacts.
The images were created using various techniques on paper, both opaque and transparent, and are presented without a frame, hanging loosely by nylon wires on a custom-made stainless steel structure.
(r)evolving suspensions is structured and designed in such a way that it reveals several images to viewers at once, inviting them to walk around the work, and by doing so to facilitate their exploration of a kaleidoscope of possible constellations and relationships between the hanging images and themselves.
Online presentation of the work was made, in order to underline the tension between the physical and simulated context of the image. The presentation is made to offer individual the possibility to navigate around the entire structure, but as well to detriment how and in which combination to view the works. By doing so there is no one linear way of seen the work, but rather a dynamic decision of the viewer how to narrate the images.
Both the digital and physical approaches are challenging existing modes of presentation and stimulates discussion around the language of reading images in our contemporary society — a flat image, presented in a layering construction can be seen as an individual work, or in a relation to other works, which automatically changes the way we understand the context and meaning of the overall structure. Further, the interweaving of the “archive sthetics” of the photopolymer prints and the expressive ink and watercolour interventions done on them creates a new platform, whereby the personal (individual) marks encounter technological methods of recording visual information — the historical, generated information vs. the individual intervention.
Sabra- Noris. Photopolymer, ink and aquarelle on
rice paper, 38 x 29 cm.
The individual works were created using different methods of layering images and visual information — using traditional techniques of printmaking, etching and photopolymer combined with gestural ink drawing and rice paper collages. This approach allowed me to go back to the branching point of the work, and to explore different ways to articulate the same subject matter, in order to see how the effects change with each different execution. These multiple existences are embodied in individual works, the repetition of the physical action through which they are created functioning as a determining factor for the “rules” of their creation. Accordingly, each finished image is but one of the diverse manifestations of the image, which, as a whole, form a subjective representation of an iconography, of a nameable thing, of a narrative.
These two interrelated bodies of works explore how psychological (Gestalt) perception affects the understanding of what we think we are seeing, and how the manipulation of form can augment the potential content of a work. The exploration of “Pathosformel” (Aby Warburg) has provided me with ways to depict the subjective interpretation of representations of cultural artefacts. Additionally, I was interested in these images’ cultural value — the symbolic and lateral representation their forms hold — as another aspect in the investigation of our perception of nameable objects. In the process of creating the work, I extracted my subject matter out of its context and sought to exaggerate the form, looking not at what the form is, but rather what it “wants to be”, what belongs together and what must remain segregated.
Sabra and Ganesha. Photopolymer double colour print on paper, 53 x 40 cm.