Prostheses.

Artist: Tomer Sapir

Curator: Avi Lubin

2007

The constructivist movement looked upon industry and design as instruments for social change and believed in their socio-cultural capacity to mobilize and influence.

Two basic characteristics of the constructivist style are apparent in Tomer Sapir's work: one is the use of geometric language and exposed geometrical structures, characterized by the aesthetics of the machine and industry; the other is the formation of sculptural objects through an assemblage of materials. However, the context that characterized the beginning of the 20th century is no longer applicable, and what started in the constructivist movement as high expectations of a detaching from the past is no longer relevant when such detachment is today inherently associated with loneliness, alienation and frustration. In Tomer's work, paradoxically, the constructivist style both contains and renounces an enthusiasm for the idea of progress: the aesthetics of the machine, which has become so embedded in western culture, is rendered in rusty, crumbling and rickety structures. Nevertheless, the works portray an enthusiasm for the exposed geometrical structures and for that which is embodied in progress.

 

The displayed objects create a grey area in which cultural life is created and destroyed at one and the same time. This involvement in grey areas has been present in much of Tomer's work. It can be seen, for example, in the installation "insectess: section" in the current exhibition "In Front of Your Nose" at Tel Aviv Museum.  In this installation Tomer exhibits a large-scale ant farm, comprising a group of insectesses (female insects) thus combining organic language and materials (eggshells, beetroot stems, soil) with synthetic ones (concrete, parts of light bulbs, rusty wires). This intersection gives birth to a group of androgynous creatures which belong to neither the organic nor the synthetic world, and yet belong to both.

 

In the current work, Tomer uses autumn leaves, which have been gathered from the ground before drying out and crumbling. These leaves are in a state of suspended life after the cessation of all essential functions, in a grey area between life and death. The light, which functions both as a physical material and a metaphysical entity, exposes the veins and the pigments of the leaves and thus appears to kindle life in them and to restore the leaves' "natural" function by attaching them to the constructions. Yet the light also has the complete opposite effect.  Under this light nothing "natural" remains and the effect of this resuscitation clarifies that this is an artificial resuscitation. The moment of quickening announces its demise.

 

The failure of the bond with the construction to restore the leaves' "natural" function generates a feeling that we are dealing with the connection between an artificial prosthesis and a living body. However, this is an illusion, since it is hard to decide what is the body and what is the prosthesis, what is living and what is artificial. In fact, the blurring of this boundary creates / reveals the illusion of a binary separation and discloses that the relation between both parts is dialectic.     

 Ben Yehudas st 176, Tel-Aviv, Israel

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