Composition of a New Tribe
Participating artists: Raafat Hattab, Vered Nissim, David Adika, Amit Zoran and Jennifer Jacobs, Johnathan Hopp, Tomer Dahan, Dafna Avidan, Ora Lev, Tzzazit, Ma Li, Dorit Bialer, Simon Wachsmuth
Curator: Sharon Horodi, 2017
Curator: Sharon Horodi, 2017
Objects carry within themselves energies, they enclose knowledge and longing. In Hebrew, the noun ‘hefetz’ (object) shares the same root as the verb ‘lachpotz’, which means to long or to wish for something. Humans have developed complicated relationships with objects, and in extreme cases they are willing to risk their lives or even to harm others to lay they hands over valuable objects. One can say that the value of an object consists not just of its material worth but also – and perhaps primarily – of the emotional, symbolic or cultural value invested in it. Objects are an inseparable part of human existence. From the moment man has began manufacturing objects, he never ceased to improve them, first with his bare hands and eventually through industrial mass production. The vast knowledge stored in objects from the past allows us, nowadays, to explore cultures that have long gone extinct. Contemporary culture too can be examined through the objects we produce and make, through the things we assemble and acquire. The exhibition “Compositions of a New Tribe” was curated in view of the main theme of this year’s Musrara Mix Fetival: “Terra Incognita: East and West in a Hybrid World,” presenting works that address, each in its own manner, the meanings that arise from the hybrid composites of objects. At the core of the works on show are connections coming from myriad sources, to create a whole that feeds on the totality of its constitutive elements.
The two projects by social designer Amit Zoran – Hybrid Basketry and Hybrid Practice in the Kalahari (in collaboration with Jennifer Jacobs) – resulted from an attempt to merge ancient tribal crafts with contemporary technology. Zoran makes baskets and jewelry through cooperation and exchange with communities and tribes in Botswana and Namibia.
Johnathan Hopp, a ceramic designer, likewise seeks to connect tradition with contemporary design. In his research project, Inconclusive conversations, he combines modern design with a technique of traditional Armenian decorations dating centuries back, a tradition that itself draws on multiple sources, among them the Chinese art of hand-painted tiles and vases.
Having resided in Japan for some 15 years now, artist Dafna Avidan takes inspiration from the country’s culture and traditions. For her installation, African Violet, she sew a group of entities from leftover fabrics that originated in Japan and Africa, patches she died with natural pigments. The entities hover above the ground, having originated from sea – the very sea that brought tsunami to the shores of Japan, and that engulfed migrants attempting to cross it from Africa to Europe. Joining together swatches of fabric, the artist references the Japanese boro tradition that had evolved among poor peasants, of sewing patches of hemp into indigo-dyed sheets.
Qing, the video installation by Simon Wachsmuth, harbors a reference to the aura imbedded in items of clothing and objects that carry artistic values alongside a family history. Wachsmuth received the inheritance of his great aunt, who escaped to Shanghai during World War II: Artfully embroidered kimonos from the Qing dynasty and a Japanese tea set. The kimonos are shot in close-ups that reveal their seductive beauty, while also being worn and taken off by a dancer who moves in between the sea of porcelain goods – cups, saucers and a teapot from the set, now scattered across the floor.
The “curtain” by Ma Li, a Chinese artist, is made out of recycled materials. The artist, who refers to this work as “painting with fabric,” sews and combines pieces of fabric to create a delicate and captivating collage that draws on the aesthetic of Chinese papercuts and lampshades.
Ikhlass, an installation by Raafat Hattab, is made of large knitted units. Often considered as a “feminine” preoccupation, knitting requires dedication and laboriousness, resulting in end-product that are mostly utilitarian – clothing, covers, etc. Hattab works mainly with circular knitting techniques, entering in a dialogue with the cyclical patterns found in life and nature – birth and death, the seasons, and the many spiraled formations of natural organisms.
Semiassimilation, a joint sculpture by the Tzzazit Group, was made in collaboration with a group of women who emigrated as adults from Ethiopia. The women, who participated in a workshop aimed at acquainting them with work tools such as drills as screws, created intuitively small machines that bear resemblance to the looms they are familiar with from their native Ethiopia. The sculpture consists of various “moving machines” created by the participants, assembled into a joint kinetic piece.
The series of portraits shot by Ora Lev were printed on local paving slabs, using a special technique. In Continuum, the sitters are women immigrants who have had to forgo personal ambitions and aspirations in their new country. Nonetheless, they look straight at the camera and expose layers of their history, autobiography and place of origin.
The vases found by David Adika in local flea markets were produced in the 1960s and 1970s by local ceramic manufacturers specialized in Israeli design. Adika shot the vases, and through abstraction he unveils their original shapes and the considerable influence of African ceramics on them. Africana, the name given to his installation, is a combination of “Israeliana,” a term related to local collectibles, and “Africa.”
In the trio of bats taken from the installation Striking at Clichés, as well as in Nicole’s Bag, Vered Nissim uses mundane mass-produced objects such as carpet beaters, plastic figures, stickers and artificial flowers. Nissim intertwines those elements to create new multilayered objects that are appealing while also suggestive of social critique.
Dorit Bialer’s Orient Express is a map inspired by the luxurious travels of the turn of the century, in the prestigious train that picked its passengers straight out of the opera houses of central Europe and drove them east, to the exoticism of the Ottoman Empire and later as far as Cairo and Bagdad. Partly based on the trajectory of the Orient Express and on the colonial reality of the time, the map also combines the language of contemporary marketing taken to the extreme.
As part of the opening event, choreographer Tomer Dahan will present The Beauty of the Silence Triangle: An Experimental Ballet in 3 Acts, a dance performance that joins together the world of Ikebana – the Japanese art of flower arrangement – with the gestural code of classical ballet and improvisation practice.