Made In
Contact

Made In Contact: Collaboration in times of social distancing

By Bonny Nahmias and Gabriella Willenz

The seeds for this project were planted in the spring of 2020, when the world as we knew it ceased to function. In isolation, we can’t remember who called who first but there was a need to stay in contact, albeit the shelter in place order, and so we started weekly calls to each other. We shared our experiences: our needs and wants, the struggles of being immigrants, the longing for our families far away, political views, and intimate debates. One shared feeling stood out for us, the need to keep making art, meaningful art, even when galleries closed and it felt as if we will never exhibit art again. We decided to make art for one another. “Private and useful,” we said, to be exhibited at each other’s homes. Unlike the virtual existence that took over during this pandemic that constrained us to perceive with only two senses, here we would be able to touch, smell, look, and even listen to the artwork. It was then that we realized that we wish to expand this exchange into a wider group of artists and see what could happen.
We named this exchange Made In Contact, for both the physical contact we made with the work and the contact we made with each other. It is a collaborative exchange inspired by the Jewish value of “Mutual Responsibility.” We invited 30 artists from Asylum Art’s alumni from across the US to join us in fulfilling this deed in times when it seemed more relevant than ever—the current pandemic.

The artists were split into ten groups of three; assigning each artist in a group a letter, A, B, or C. Participant A was the catalyst and shared their experiences of the past year with participant B in an intimate conversation and through their art. Participant B then created an original and tangible artwork in response. These works are a dialogue in essence as group B’s experiences are also implicated in the pieces. The artworks were mailed to C, who displayed the work in their homes and wrote a response, providing a context and eliciting new meaning from the creation of participant B, which came without descriptions. In Poetics Aristotle writes: “[humans are] by nature social animals […] Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake in society, is either a beast or a god.”
People have been impacted by the pandemic both physically and emotionally in an array of ways, but everyone has been challenged by the shift in social experience.
In ancient times mutual responsibility (ערבות הדדית) meant that every Jew was responsible for the fulfillment of their friend’s deeds (“mitzvahs”). Today the phrase is used in a different sense: that every Jew is responsible for the well-being of their friends and community. In both cases what is central is the mutuality and reciprocity and the understanding that we never exist in a vacuum, but are always in relation to others. Navigating through this past year and the unknown ahead of us, the perspectives of others are vital to processing our experience and positioning. Some would advocate that this is exactly the role of artists and philosophers.

There is no just way to sum up these ten collaborative groupings, and it wasn’t our ambition to come through with scientific results as from a social experiment. More so, the writers in group C seemed to resist the prompt to contextualize, unpack, or explain the work of group B. Thankfully so. Instead, the writers created another work of art orbiting, together with the works by groups A and B around something unnamed, unseen, and unspoken. This distance, the dance these groupings of 3 are dancing around a set of ideas and feelings, makes room for us, and others to join.
Still, we noticed several recurrent qualities which could function as the outline of a portrait. A portrait of this time, a portrait of this phenomenon we are all experiencing. Some of the works seem to manifest a search. The artists in this project were thrown into an abyss and had to find a starting point to climb their way out, to familiarize themselves with this new terrain. So some artists and writers first addressed what was evidently in front of them – describing the works like an Ekphrasis or translating from one medium to another. Often describing physical aspects: where they are, what they see, what they heard, where they are walking. This felt like a quest to get a hold on what is concrete, what we can agree upon as fact, as reality, as necessary. Could this echo the conversations around the vaccine and science? These works are an expression of curiosity and investigation that demonstrate a quality of resilience, the same quality that propelled scientists to find a cure and activists to go out to the streets.

Several writers wrote in the format of a letter which bridges between a “me” and a “you”. Isn’t the classic format of a letter: “I hope this letter finds you well. I was happy to learn you did so and so. Now, about me…?” This format is a metaphor to the underlying theme of this experiment and echoes a notion that came up often – our interconnectedness, the dynamic shift between the micro and macro, alone and together, private and public.
Many of the works, the visuals and the writings start from the other and quickly go inward to the creator – what are the forms, colors, mediums I use, what are my experiences, where am I situated. It was exciting to see that even when one focused a lot on themselves it still expressed their collaborators, because we are all so interconnected.
Many of the works demonstrate questions. So many question marks can be found throughout this book. Isn’t this the “job” of the artist? Someone said we should not aim at developing abilities for better prediction, but rather to think through the future better. It seems that answering has never been the point of art, but rather to raise more questions and offer alternative ways to think about the past, the present and the future. With that, if you read some of the questions without their question-marks you can know what the person asking thinks or wants. We need to continue to strengthen our abilities to listen. Questions are both a tool of the state, bureaucracy and interrogation as well as a way to express care and love.
Many of the questions raised here are critical, political and uncomfortable and demand that we look at our place

in mechanisms that are perpetuating harm, exclusion and violence. It demands we see our interconnectedness not only to others but to larger systems. But these questions and demands stem from love and care toward our world, it’s humans and non-humans. And the works are like a hand reaching out with offerings, trying to extract some truth through veils of ideology, lies, masks and front yard facades.
Most of the artworks erased the human presence and if it appears it is only a fragment, body part or half. Many of the artworks are engaged with lines, and shapes and forms. There is a deep sense of absence and loneliness. What was evoked in several of the works was the notion of breath, so although the figure is absent there is still a living breath or a hand offering the possibility of healing. Alongside the breath a window and light – hope for resurrection from the ruins.
Our process also echoes the Jewish practice of “Hevruta” (חברותא) which means ״friendship״ or ״companionship״ and refers to the traditional approach to Talmudic study where a small group studies a text together. This method dismantles a hierarchy between the participating thinkers and works on the assumption that the exchange and practice of thinking together will bring forth ideas no one would have formed alone.
Made In Contact brings three artists in three modes of communication (spoken word, visuals, and text) to uncover something about the social implications of the pandemic. The groupings of three have created compelling “echo chambers,” each work illuminating and re-contextualizing the other.

As a whole, this project serves as a specimen reflecting the pandemic era and the experience of making sense. We selected 30 artists, but this project should function as an example for a dialogue that can emerge between any three or more humans from any and all backgrounds.
We hope you experience this book as a time-based exchange, as we experienced the performance of the processes. You, the reader and viewer, are now invited to take your place in this ongoing conversation, manifesting your own understanding of the collaborations, infusing your humanity and perspective.

 

 

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS BOOK

 

The book is divided into 11 chapters including the 10 trios (A the artist who shared their experiences and work + B the artist who made an original work of art based on that exchange + C the writer who responded to that art piece). The 11th chapter is the exchange between Bonny and Gabriella.

As you move to the next page in this book you will land on the work of an artist from group B. Their name will be in the middle and highlighted. If you click on the name above it (or scroll up) you will see the work shared by the artist from group A. If you click on the name below (or scroll down) you will be taken to the response written by the person from group C. On the bottom left of each page is an arrow which will take you to the next trio. 

At the bottom right corner there is a menu (hamburger) icon  that will open up a table of content so you can move easily to any section in the book.

ASSAF EVRON
NOA CHARUVI
SIMON CRAFTS

MICHELLE GEVINT
ALICJA GASKON
ELISABETH NICULA

ROBYN AWEND
ANNIE ALBEGLI
SOPHIE BARBASCH

KATERINA WONG
EFRAT HAKIMI
JONATHAN ROTSZTAIN

MASHA VLASOV
NOA YEKUTIELI
BORIS FISHMAN

MILCAH BASSEL
LIAT BERDUGO
ARIELLE ANGEL

SHASHA DOTHAN
ADAM LIAM ROSE
LEORA FRIDMAN

Denise Treizman
Jeremy Shuback
MAX RESNICK

LAUREN ZOLL
Michal Birnbaum
Caroline Kessler

Roni Packer
Rae Stern
EG Asher

Gabriella Willenz
Bonny Nahmias

Assaf Evron Untitled (Beit-El, Yanus), 2021

Wood/Sand, 10”x15”x3.5”

This sculpture is based on a 3000 years old Nabatean Eye Idol carved on a rock face near the ancient quarries in Timna. This work is part of a research in Beit-El, deity embedded in a rock, a religious practice that was widespread in ancient cultures around the Mediterranean. This work looks at the ways in which culture animates the natural world, creates meaning to inanimate objects and connects to the physical and metaphysical idea of BEIT the hebrew word for both home and a house.

Noa Charuvi Beit-El, 2021

Oil on linen, 8’’x10’’

Assaf’s new body of work investigates Nabatean gods and temples, their shapes and their names, and how those shapes and names were carried through the ages. Beit El, the place where Jacob had his visionary dream as described in the bible, is also a name of a Nabatean god of eyes. I was especially drawn to a new piece Assaf created, that is a relief in the shape of this god. It is similar in its simple shape to an architectural modern front. That took the conversation to the relationships between modernism aesthetic and ancient architecture, as well as the spiritual in architecture. It was interesting to find that there was a god dedicated to vision, and that his eyes look like windows. On another wall in his studio, Assaf had images of archeological sites in the Israeli Negev, of a complex of Nabatean temples shaped like a tiger. When reflecting on my own work describing ruins and Israeli landscapes, it made sense to me to look up the archeological site of Beit El. I found an old picture online and it reminded me of the tiger temples. The ruins that are in Beit El are of a muslim religious structure. The reason this site still stands unlike many muslim structures that were destroyed, is the Jewish biblical connection. There is a very established Jewish settlement right there, named Beit El, which I have never set foot in, although I grew up in Jersualem. The image of the ruins and the mountains of the Judean desert were very familiar to me nonetheless, but I kept the monochromatic color palette of the old photo rather than making up the colors in the image.

Simon Crafts The Healer Redux, 2021

Video animation with sound 1:13 min

The hands are one of the body’s primary energy centers. The heart, which has its own electromagnetic field, directly connects to our palms through the blood vessels in our arms. Thus, we have the ability to connect to other beings and their frequencies, sending and receiving pure forms of energy. This phenomenon was codified in Japan as Reiki in the early 1900s, but has existed in cultures around the world for millennia. The mother uses her hands to comfort the child’s aches and pains. The lover embraces their partner to soothe the stresses of the day. Qi Gong, craniosacral therapy, and chakra balancing work are some examples of energy work in modern spirituality. The Semikhah laying of hands in Judaism is another thread of this practice. Christian stories of Jesus depict him as a hands-on healer. The ruqyah in Islam is a healing method through the use of the right hand, as another example. While science
evolves, offering new medicines and processes for what physically ails us, our emotional energies impact our physical selves. The cures for those ills are more challenging. Healing through hands is often discredited, deemed as pseudoscience, but is one of the oldest ways of manipulating bodily energy. If we are truly spiritual beings having a physical experience, it’s
impossible to believe that we can’t use our bodies to heal our minds, to transfer power, or to absorb the darkness. Untitled shows the hands in dance, displaying an exchange of energy
fields. The hands float gracefully across the plane, extracting, infusing. As the water flows from the tap onto the hands hovering in the plane of the sink, we are reminded of the science in this art. Reader, I challenge you to put your hands on your heart. Breathe in deeply, and receive love from the Source. I dare you to tell me this is not healing.

Noa,

Where is Beit El? What is Beit El? Even though the painting is in greyscale I see sunshine and rock. I see yellow, orange, and a landscape stripped bare by sunshine.

Here in California we have this fetishitic relationship to sunshine. We act like we discovered it. It punctuates the vast beaches and endless leisure we are supposed to enjoy every day in our soft utopia of conscientious mass consumption. California found a rhetoric that neutralizes the reality of sunshine and makes it fantastical. It’s always easy and marketable.

San Francisco is not actually a very sunny place. What we do get is often offset by a sharp coastal wind that sweeps over the peninsula. From my desk I have the classic SF view: a light well. It’s this odd remainder of space pressed between my house and the adjacent unit. It’s a liminality that invites a lot of contemplation given how often I stare into it. There is a drain at the bottom and a parallelogram of grey sky visible high above. The sunlight that makes it down to my window is diffuse and weak. I stare at the blank stucco wall of my neighbor’s house. I think it’s probably the same bleached, bone-like color and texture of the ruin in your painting.

Beit El has been at my desk for the last few months. In lieu of any real view I’ve been thinking of it as a second window. It’s not the most uplifting landscape but I appreciate its realism and composure. I see the depth of the shadows that speckle the collapsed structure. I sense in the light grey wash of the background an immensity of sky and earth. Like the light well, it’s a space that is hard to account for. It requires effort to perceive. With a little patience and attention a feeling of nothing slips into the feeling of everything. I don’t have any word for that transformation into a sense of awe but “religious.”

Where is Beit El? What is Beit El? It’s a religious painting then. But when I Google it I see that it is also an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Knowing this makes me think about it in a different way. Is it a political painting? This is my immediate, distant, American reaction upon encountering any artwork referencing Israel.

Of course it’s political. Every landscape is. Space in the 21st century is never afforded the luxury of being apolitical. This is extremely clear in the case of a settlement in Israel but it’s just as apparent in San Francisco. With the city’s density, its history of dispossession, its expensive rent, its houseless population, and rampant gentrification we also know this fact. The entirety of California is just as fraught. We debate water, property taxes, fires, prisons. How do we collectively choose to organize space, the people we allow to fill these spaces, and the infrastructure they have or need to live?

Space takes effort to perceive. It is everywhere and nowhere. What seems plentiful is precious and scarce. I guess I should be grateful for my light well. But what’s missing from this political read of your painting are the people who problematize that space, who make it obviously and abundantly social. Perhaps this is why it feels religious to me. There’s something lonely and therefore beautiful about it. More about form and feeling than people.

The most religious-feeling place I have ever been to was Israel. I don’t mean this in a literal sense although that is possibly also true. Seeing people from every Abrahamic religion navigating their abutting faiths in the streets of Jerusalem or hearing the call to prayer in Jaffa felt very religious in an obvious way. But I mean “religious” in a more figurative, spiritual way. I remember arriving there and while delirious from jet lag thinking the clouds in the Golan Heights looked absolutely biblical, like God was preparing to reach out of them at any minute.

Observing Beit El on the map I wonder how near I have been to it. I have only been to Israel that one time. Like so many American Jews my age it was for Birthright. I may have driven through Beit El on a massive tour bus. Maybe I was asleep. I wouldn’t know. I had very little knowledge of where I was in the country while I was there. We were kept siloed away from the reality of Israel as much as possible while a fantasy was cultivated around us. I worry that what I felt to be religious was just the glamour of a long ideological project. Like that sunshine in California.

I wonder then, if the binary I’ve created (is Beit El religious or political?) is a false one. It’s the folding that is essential, how they intersect and overlap in a place. I need a new approach.

Where is Beit El? What is Beit El?

Maybe I’m asking the wrong questions. How about when is Beit El? Is this a contemporary image or a rendering of the past? Is this a ruin destroyed by exposure and disrepair or explosives? I think again I’ve encountered a false binary. I see this ruin and unfortunately, I think of the future as well, all the impending catastrophes.

As I write this, conflict has broken out between Palestinians and Israelis after threats by Israeli police to evict several Palestinian families lead to violence. In California, thanks to a drought, we are exiting a pandemic into a very early fire season. These things feel absolutely political, but in another sense they also feel religious to me. They are existential. It’s Walter Benjamin’s “wreckage” piling at my feet while I remain still, fixed at my desk between a light well and your painting.

What is both political and religious? Maybe history. That feeling of passing through time, or of time passing through you. That’s how I experience Beit El, as literalizing that experience.

I’ve appreciated the view.
Simon.

May 12th, 2021

Katerina Wong The Healer, 2021

Presented by RAWdance and ODC Theater, was a virtual dance performance and holistic online experience. Choreographed by Katerina Wong in memory of her late aunt, The Healer mined the ancient history, systems, and beliefs of Traditional Chinese Medicine to magnify and marvel at humanity’s innate ability to overcome physical and emotional suffering. After months of isolation, anxiety, frustration, loss, grief, and uncertainty, The Healer embraced a new purpose to create space for personal reflection, communal breath, and universal release.

 

Efrat Hakimi Untitled, 2021

Paper, book cloth, binder’s board, 10.75’’X12’’

Hands embody people and actions. The female body, and specifically hands have had an active presence in my work. For the healer, pain is palpable and the hands mediate between the bodies, and in my response to Katie’s work, I echo an instant where the performers wash their hands.

 

Jonathan Rotsztain The Healer Redux, 2021

Video animation with sound 1:13 min

The hands are one of the body’s primary energy centers. The heart, which has its own electromagnetic field, directly connects to our palms through the blood vessels in our arms. Thus, we have the ability to connect to other beings and their frequencies, sending and receiving pure forms of energy. This phenomenon was codified in Japan as Reiki in the early 1900s, but has existed in cultures around the world for millennia. The mother uses her hands to comfort the child’s aches and pains. The lover embraces their partner to soothe the stresses of the day. Qi Gong, craniosacral therapy, and chakra balancing work are some examples of energy work in modern spirituality. The Semikhah laying of hands in Judaism is another thread of this practice. Christian stories of Jesus depict him as a hands-on healer. The ruqyah in Islam is a healing method through the use of the right hand, as another example. While science
evolves, offering new medicines and processes for what physically ails us, our emotional energies impact our physical selves. The cures for those ills are more challenging. Healing through hands is often discredited, deemed as pseudoscience, but is one of the oldest ways of manipulating bodily energy. If we are truly spiritual beings having a physical experience, it’s
impossible to believe that we can’t use our bodies to heal our minds, to transfer power, or to absorb the darkness. Untitled shows the hands in dance, displaying an exchange of energy
fields. The hands float gracefully across the plane, extracting, infusing. As the water flows from the tap onto the hands hovering in the plane of the sink, we are reminded of the science in this art. Reader, I challenge you to put your hands on your heart. Breathe in deeply, and receive love from the Source. I dare you to tell me this is not healing.

On Convex / Concave, 2021

What if there is no right side up? What if, in orienting myself to the Earth, I could choose, like the ocean’s undertow makes me choose? What if the ground is the air? Is the ground made
of air? What if a hill is the Earth having taken a very deep breath, its skin expanded where it is most tender, and then held that way for an entire geological age? What if I walked up a very tall hill and the Earth let go its hold? If I kept walking up an unseen incline until I reached the edge of the atmosphere? Would I not then be oriented according to the sky with the ground above? If I left my home in San Francisco, and could only travel by foot because the pandemic made other modes of travel dangerous, or expressed a danger that was already there, so I walked out of my apartment and headed south, and then east, every block zigging and zagging until I hit water? What if I put my left hand in the Pacific Ocean and walked until my left  hand was in the Atlantic? What do you make of logistics now? I drop the observational body on the path to the mountain. It looks very cold on this flat between two ridges, and the way back is desolate. There is a group of people all wearing the same orange parka. I drop the observational body. Below and above me are fellow travellers. A wide river looks dry but it might not be a river. Across the river is a ridge with vertical ochre and silver striations. I am amazed by their orientation. I thought this was a walking path but there are tire tracks. There are  little tufts of aquatic plants between large pebbles. I drop the observational body and see prayer flags strewn from boulder to boulder all the way up a slope to where the ridge becomes too steep for that. I look closely at one of the boulders and see that it is covered with perfect rounded concavities. I drop the observational body and am inside a large white tent. Its  contents appear lovely and practical.

There are groups of travellers and arrangements of bright plastic tubs. There are low painted tables and benches for resting, and large metal containers that could be full of water. It’s hard to imagine how any of this got there because there seem to be fewer logistics in the

Michelle Claire Gevint Untitled, 2020

Phototransfer on rock

This work is about embodying the conflict between the home, which has become an encapsulating barrier, or protective shield, limiting our social interactions and engagement with the outside world. The Modernist building printed on the rock embodies the ideal notion of achieving a Utopia through design. While the rock represents the longing to the outdoors, to the raw and untouched.

Alicja Gaskon Convex / Concave, 2021

Acrylic, ink, paper and oil stick on wood panel, 8’’x10’’x0.3’’

The outlined shape corresponds to Mt. Kailash, and the length of the first line is in scale 1: 100 000 to the length of the pilgrimage path around the mountain of 32 miles. If you turn the work upside down, it represents a sinkhole. It’s a technical graph of a ground sinkage evaluation over time. During my meeting with Michelle, I spent a lot of time talking with her about her trip to South Asia and her video work. She told me a lot of amazing stories but two of them in particular resonated with me strongly. I wanted to represent them both in my work. Michelle told me a story of her exhausing and gruelling trek around the mountain that represents Shiva and her feelings at the time. Later on we talked about her challenging video work on sinkholes around the Dead Sea and her trip to capture them. These stories really made an impression on me. They were both mentally and physically challenging and were important, defining moments in her life. I also feel like they represent her passion, resilience and determination.

On Convex / Concave, 2021

What if there is no right side up? What if, in orienting myself to the Earth, I could choose, like the ocean’s undertow makes me choose? What if the ground is the air? Is the ground made of air? What if a hill is the Earth having taken a very deep breath, its skin expanded where it is most tender, and then held that way for an entire geological age? What if I walked up a very tall hill and the Earth let go its hold? If I kept walking up an unseen incline until I reached the edge of the atmosphere? Would I not then be oriented according to the sky with the ground above? If I left my home in San Francisco, and could only travel by foot because the pandemic made other modes of travel dangerous, or expressed a danger that was already there, so I walked out of my apartment and headed south, and then east, every block zigging and zagging until I hit water? What if I put my left hand in the Pacific Ocean and walked until my left hand was in the Atlantic? What do you make of logistics now?

I drop the observational body on the path to the mountain. It looks very cold on this flat between two ridges, and the way back is desolate. There is a group of people all wearing the same orange parka. I drop the observational body. Below and above me are fellow travellers. A wide river looks dry but it might not be a river. Across the river is a ridge with vertical ochre and silver striations. I am amazed by their orientation. I thought this was a walking path but there are tire tracks. There are little tufts of aquatic plants between large pebbles. I drop the observational body and see prayer flags strewn from boulder to boulder all the way up a slope to where the ridge becomes too steep for that. I look closely at one of the boulders and see that it is covered with perfect rounded concavities. I drop the observational body and am inside a large white tent. Its contents appear lovely and practical. There are groups of travellers and arrangements of bright plastic tubs. There are low painted tables and benches for resting, and large metal containers that could be full of water. It’s hard to imagine how any of this got there because there seem to be fewer logistics in the surrounding area.

I think I am scraping through a snowstorm. I think of many mountainous disasters. I think I must have lost my way because the Earth and the sky are the same. You are here no matter where. I pass footprints that are mine or another traveller’s. I think I see red prayer flags peeking out of the snow. I think I see forms but I can’t be sure. I think I should stop and make a plan. I plan to walk east to west and west to east in arcs of increasing concavity. That gets me somewhere; the footprints walk sideways. I look at my map again. I realize I was holding it wrong so I turn it the other way and walk into the Earth. I walk further in and then back out in arcs of increasing convexity. Oh, it’s a beautiful river, cold and riffled. I arrive.

Masha Vlasova The Imaginary Kaleidoscope, 2020

HD, COLOR, SOUND, 00:11:04 min.

The film is composed of a series of close-ups of animal sculptures, small and large. The close-ups, which excise context from the frame, suggest portraiture. Even without context, lawn sculptures are recognizably mass-produced and made of inexpensive, yet robust material intended to endure outside. The male voiceover reads a monologue quilted with quotations from the western canon in which the author ventriloquizes an animal voice (i.e. Kafka, Rilke, Bishop, Tolstoy). The video offers a meditation on voyeurism and the performative quality of public-facing private displays, and on the desire to reintegrate animals into our life. The yard art animal sculptures are dinky monuments to that desire for reintegration. I gathered the footage in towns across the Northeast, Midwest, and the South suggesting a collective place-less portrait of Americana.

 

 

Noa Yekutieli Behind The Front Yard, 2021

Manual paper-cutting, graphite, collage, embroidery, 28’’x33 ⅝’’

The video piece Masha created (that we also spoke about during our conversation) led me to think about the concept of the front yard, in relation to the back yard; what we proudly present vs. the truth in which we hide. I was thinking about my experience of the “American borderline” and how hard it is to cross from the “front yard” to the “back yard”, as a symbol. This led me to think about the “Israeli backyard”; the occupation, in which Israel tends to try to push aside and deny the acknowledgment of such an inhuman manner that is constantly occurring in “our” backyard. There are also hints to the abstractions of the kav ha yarok, with all its complex meaning; both of the “American version” which is the front yard, and the Israeli one.

 

 

Behold The Man Detained By Thought

Underneath a mottled, sewn-through sky,
We sift through fragments of our favorite lie.
Permitted rest under the seeing eye,
We labor not to mispronounce the yes as why.

Were we not young once, full, and fair?
Seen nowhere
And unseen everywhere?
The lucky few whose body broke before the mind.

A man with hands behind his back –
As a property of what you own and lack –
Is a man in thought
And not a man detained.

Behold the man detained by thought.
Behold the woman sewn in two.
Behold a home of windows and no doors.
The poet told us: “I carry a window to look at what I wish.”

Robyn Awend Handed Down, 2020

Letterpress

Handed Down is part of a series of letterpress prints created about my great grandfather, Samuel Simon, who was also a printer and bookmaker. It was said that he padded each of his books with Hebrew newspapers, and it became his signature. This print incorporates text from contemporary Hebrew newspapers paying homage to the 100+ years of artistic lineage spanning between Samuel and I.

Professor Marshall Duke speaks about the importance of the intergenerational self; the more we know about our family’s history, where and who we come from – despite the difficulty, the more resilient we are throughout life.  This print and its series are part of my personal journey to discover my intergenerational self.  

Annie Albagli We Become Vessels For Everything Going On / Micro and Macro, 2021

3 Silk Habotai flags, 3' x 5' + steel wall mounted flag pole holders, Sound work: 13:2 min.; Beeswax candles infused with mugwort and coastal sage from Marin, CA, 5 Headlands serpentine and chert rocks fashioned as candleholders

This work responds to ideas that emerged from a conversation between myself and Robyn Awend, including, ritual, capacity, and language. It invokes elements from our exchange, including, wind, fire, and water.  The work is comprised of: 3 silk flags, rocks fashioned to be candle holders, beeswax candles with mugwort and sage (plants used to combat pain and inflammation), and a two channel sound recording taken from water entering through a carved archway in the Pacific Ocean at the start of high tide. Two of the three flags include text from our conversation; on one the question, How is Your Capacity? and on another, a statement, we become vessels for everything going on / micro and macro — constantly shifting between the two. Composite images from the tide pools where the sound was recorded, form these images and text. The tide pools are an area where micro and macro mesh; the mussels, rocks, pebbles, seaweed, become exposed when the water recedes and disappear when engulfed by high tide. The fluidity of this secret space, its connection to the moon and link to other shores, and the metaphors imbued here in relation to capacity, fluidity, and the body as the vessel, made it a place I wanted to center in this work.  The flags, candles, and sound created in my studio, now moved to another site, respond to its new surroundings: the flags move in relation to new wind patterns, another human’s breath, the rocks placed on the flag invoke a landscape seen from the birds eye view, move between the micro and macro, and the sound of the water envelops the room as an imprint of the rhythm from depletion to fullness.

 

“Unraveling the Illusion of Separateness”

Annie Albagli’s piece asks: “how is your capacity?” I see this question when I wake up, throughout the day, and before I go to sleep. I am almost ashamed to answer: “low, bad.” 

The question is printed on a silk flag. A second flag states, “we become vessels for everything micro and macro constantly shifting between the two.” In addition to these flags with text, which is overlaid on images of the Pacific coast and sea floor, the piece consists of a third flag (with only an image); rocks from the California Headlands that have a volcanic feel; candles made of beeswax, mugwort, and sage that can be placed in the rocks and lit on shabbat; and a sound piece of the ocean. 

When the piece arrived, I wasn’t quite sure what to do, because it belongs outside, not in a small New York City apartment. But I adjusted the installation, using the third flag to make an altar with the candles and rocks. Instead of mounting the flags, I hung them like curtains. 

The effect of the fabric over the windows is like stained glass: the light filtering through is infused with color, and the texts are illuminated. My usual view of a brick wall is transformed into a meditative underwater scene. The flags create privacy but also let the world come through. The result is somehow protective. I am hidden but also immersed in a new place—a foreign environment delivered to my doorstep. The fabric moves subtly, constantly, even when the fan is off and the windows are closed, reminding me of the work’s underlying theme: breathing.

As gentle and beautiful as the piece is, I also find it difficult. It asks me to confront our current moment. We have been thinking a lot about breathing.

There is nothing I can tell you about 2020 and 2021 that you don’t already know. I don’t need to tell you about the pandemic, about a virus that makes it impossible to breathe, or about our broken healthcare system. I don’t need to tell you about waves of white supremacist violence or about a police force that systematically targets and kills black people. I don’t need to remind you of George Floyd’s last words, “I can’t breathe,” or about the murders of Daunte Wright, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. There is nothing I can tell you about the crises of climate, racism, mass shootings or oxygen shortages that you don’t already know. 

In Albagli’s work, the notion of interconnectedness references all of these crises and others beyond them. But the work is not simply about crisis. The fabric of the flags has a relationship to the body: it can envelope or cover. The notion of taking care of oneself, of each other, is embedded in the piece. The altar is a space of optimism; shabbat is a moment of rest. The flag, so often used to delineate territory, here becomes a symbol of synthesis. 

Most days, my capacity remains low and bad. The idea that we might not be totally depleted by the aforementioned realities is rooted in systems that urgently need to be dismantled. This piece represents a break from these systems and creates a space for reflection. At a time when none of us has the capacity to ask other people about their capacity, I am grateful to have the work here, floating next to me. 

As I write this on the eve of shabbat, the day’s headlines echo in my mind: Israeli attacks on Gaza leave 120 dead and 900 wounded. I think of Annie’s quiet, persistent text: “we become vessels for everything.” Her rocks and images and sounds traversing the country, from California to New York, represent a microcosm of life without the illusion of separateness. Our capacities are connected.

Milcah Bassel Water(s)Wishes, 2021

Text, photo

A process photo from the papermaking studio and an arrangement of words addressing the behavior of water contacting other water and the loneliness of skin.

Liat Berdugo Spectra, 2021

Weaving with textiles, wood, pump parts 12" x 23"

Inspired by a conversation with multidisciplinary artist Milcah Bassel, Spectra is a hand weaving composed of textiles, pump parts, and wood. Two themes — grids and water– kept arising in my conversations with Bassel. Grids arose because Bassel is a paper maker, and as a result much of her work has to do with mesh grids and ways to both use and subvert them. As we spoke over Zoom, she was framed by a work-in-progress: a painting of a colorful, wavy grid that looked almost pixelated in real life, almost three dimensional. The theme of grids inspired me to make a weaving, which is a work in which the weft and warp come together to form a textile grid. Water arose because Bassel — who lives alone — began showering religiously every night because of the lockdown. The water provides her with a sense of touch, of caress, of warmth and contact that she does not have anymore due to pandemic. I, too, began showering every night, but for different reasons: I had a baby, and at the end of the day I was covered in spit up and breast milk. The reliance on blues and pump parts in this piece are a homage to our conversation about water.

 

Arielle Angel Who Can I Call: on Adam Liam Rose Leora Fridman

Questions for a Stranger About This Moment in History

When was the last time you were touched? Held? By another human being? By something nonhuman? Water? Music? What did it feel like? How long did it sustain you? How long did it have to? Did this touch involve some kind of risk? To yourself? To others? If so, how did you make the decision to pursue it? Was it worth it? If you live with another person, did you touch less over these months? More? Did the quality of touch change? Did you and the person you live with have similar or divergent experiences during this time of illness and isolation? If they were divergent, how so? How do you feel about this person now? If you lived with children during this period, did it nourish you or drain you? Did you enjoy being home with them or did you wish you were away from them entirely? Both? Did you notice anything about the times when one pattern of feeling triumphed over another? Did you have a baby during this time of illness and isolation? Did that make this period easier or more difficult to manage? Have you worried about your child’s socialization during this period? Have those worries  proved warranted or overblown? Did you ever become sick during this period? How sick? Who took care of you? Were you afraid for your life or for the lives of those around you? Is this the first time you’ve experienced this kind of fear? Have you been surprised at your resilience during this period? Your vulnerability? Both at the same time? Did you notice anything  about the times when one pattern of feeling triumphed over another? Have you cried during this period? More or less than usual? Has your appetite changed? Your drinking habits? Your exercise routine? Your sleep? Have you any new hobbies? New religious beliefs? Did you do drugs during this time of illness and isolation? Was it revelatory? Uncomfortable? Did you  attend any gatherings during this period? A performance? A ritual? A protest? How did it feel to be part of a collective act? Did you move to a different place during this period? If so,  why? Do you think you will ever return to the place you left? If not, what will you miss about that place? Have you seen a therapist during this period? If so, has it been helpful? Did they talk with you about their own hardship? If so, how did that make you feel? What was it like to work during this time of illness and isolation? Did you work more than usual? Less? If you did not work, what did you learn from not working? If you were laid off of a job, will you return to it? Have you switched careers as a result of this period? Did you worry about money? Did you have more than you could spend? If you worked from home, what did that feel like? Did your gender affect your experience of working from home? Did you learn something new about how you work? About what it’s like to inhabit your gender? About how you feel in your clothes? Did you notice anything about your face from looking at it on a screen? Were you in school during this period? Were you able to learn? Did you ever meet your classmates in person? What was the most painful separation you experienced during this time of illness and isolation? Separation from a particular family member? A friend? Separation from a part of yourself? From a favorite bar or restaurant? From a specific sense of the world? Conversely, did this period of illness and isolation provide an opportunity to reconnect with someone or something? Is there a way in which you enjoyed this period? If so, what did you enjoy about it? Do you feel guilty about having those feelings? Do you refrain from expressing them to others? Do you feel more clarity about which of your personal relationships matter? Less clarity? Do you personally know someone who died during this time of illness and isolation? How many people? Were they close to you? What will you miss about them? What was their unique and irreplaceable gift to the world? If you don’t know anyone who died, did you read obituaries of the dead in order to connect to a collective loss? Did it succeed in making you feel connected? Are you grieving? On behalf of yourself or others? What shape does that grief take? Is it abstract or acute? If you are not grieving, why not? How would you characterize your relationship to time during this period of illness and isolation? Are you eager to “go back” or are you anxious about it? Does it feel possible to go back? Does it feel too possible? Did this time of illness and isolation change the way you view the world? If so, will the change in your worldview affect your actions in some way? If not, why not? Did you anticipate a greater rupture as a result of this event? If so, are you relieved that it has not yet occurred? Disappointed that it hasn’t? Has your sense of the possibility for rupture widened or narrowed? How does this event relate to your conception of “apocalypse” or other paradigms of world-ending or cataclysm? If you generally don’t think about such things, why not? Were you able to feel yourself living through a moment in history? What did that feel like? Has it changed the way you read history? Has it changed the way you think about the future? If not, why not? Do you think you can retrieve the sense of having a future? Would it help if we took off our shoes and stood out on the grass and tried to live for some slow minutes in the same thought, passing it between us with our breath for as long as we could manage to be still: That happened, that happened, that happened.

Shasha Dothan 14 days, 2020

Video, 4:50 min

In the beginning of March 2020 my partner and I came to visit my parents for the first time since we were together. A few days after we arrived we were asked by the Israeli government to go into home quarantine. Text, paintings and music are integrated into the video’s narrative, sharing a love story between two women, one Israeli and the other American in the time of Covid. The drawings are a marker of the journey that began a year and a half before, spanning between Israel and New York. Set within the earliest days of the Coronavirus that influenced and changed our lives, the video “14 days” begins in the first moments of quarantine as the drawings take a look back at the journey we went through together. What does it mean to come out of the closet at the age of 30 and what feelings accompany accepting myself as queer. Questions surface around notions of home, sexual identity and starting a family according to accepted norms verses according to the life I desire. Home is a theme that has accompanied me in my work for years and the desire to find a safe place where I feel I belong. “14 days” we are quarantined in my parents’ apartment, the place that always symbolized home for me, but the room is no longer mine and the home is no longer mine. As isolation ends and the Coronavirus wanes how will this new world unfold and what will home be next.

Adam Liam Rose Untitled, 2021

Graphite, watercolor and colored-pencil on paper, 9" x 12"

This work was born from a conversation with artist Sasha Dothan, where she described and shared images from her time in quarantine. “Inner Conflicts” mines the psychological space of the bedroom during the pandemic, as both a space of comfort and claustrophobia. The room here turns into a stage, offering both the possibility of endless space as well as a reminder of the temporality of architecture in the framing of our lives.

Leora Fridman Who Can I Call: on Adam Liam Rose Leora Fridman

Dear Adam,

When your piece arrived, I had been waiting. Do you know that meme that’s been going around? It’s the one that visualizes how UPS might give us a package delivery window and then maybe even an hour before the window, we go out and stand in the middle of the road and wait for you.

When your piece arrived, I had been inside much of the year and so I was always making efforts to go outside. In your piece, I saw a bulletin board first, a collection of notes or announcements that in another world might announce possibilities for gathering but that here, in your piece, announce a loneliness to me, perhaps an attempt to ingather information when bodies did not or could not.

Your piece arrived when I forced myself to go out for a walk. You know, the package might come when you are not waiting for it, a watched pot never boils, etc. What was the peak I was waiting for? For a long time, I had been holding my breath. I started going to these breathwork sessions online, trying to understand how you let something go.

But what if you are waiting, and what threatens to arrive is the end? When your piece arrived, I had been going for walks in an abandoned university that sits next to the place where I live right now. The Santa Fe University of Art and Design went bankrupt and shut down a few years ago and the city is still in process with what the campus will become. In the meantime, it is wind season and tumbleweeds speed across paths I guess were meant for what in higher education we call discourse, students bumping into one another, we can imagine, talking animatedly about the insights they’ve just acquired in class. Now there are high-pitched squeaks that seem to be how the animals communicate that are running along the grounds here and darting into holes in the ground. They look like squirrels to my east coast eye, but probably they are more like a prairie dog because they seem to live in these mounds where they secret themselves away as I approach.

In your piece, I see a world carved or attempting to carve itself out from gloom, lacking context. The soft grey marks of the graphite on paper feel more like a language or a script than a background, or maybe I am just wishing to be spoken to.

When your piece of arrived, I had been repeating the word intertextuality, how in my mouth it sounded like sex as I mumbled in an empty library and looked out the window or said the word on a video call and carefully pursed my lips. I was reading Tisa Bryant, who writes here,

When I read and when I teach and when I write I am trying to reach out to you, to receive your piece, not to speak of myself (narcissism) but to bring it in, see what mirror can be breathed upon or exchanged. I think of the white glow in the center of your drawing, a kind of presence and absence at the same time.

When your piece arrived, I was finishing up teaching Zoom university for the year. It felt more than uncanny to do this while going for wanders through a university that had been not just hollowed out but left for dead. What was here still? The blooming catalpas, which I loved but was allergic to, angry as always that my body was getting wrong which outside stimuli was hazardous to me. I was worrying about how I would react to the vaccine as person with chronic illness, tracking @DisabledCovidVaccOralHistory where disabled people posted their individual reactions for the rest of us to know. I loved the individual reporting there, the face and arms of the bodies there comprising the kind of research we need.

What else was here still? During the year I had tried to hold text together and make a home in it, but also, I had been fenced behind the windows like the bars in your piece. What else? In the abandoned university there was one parking lot with many cars and as I approached it, I wondered why this part was populated. Covid-conditioned, the people made me more anxious than the empty space. As I got closer, I could see it was “Midtown Public Safety Office.” Police, of course the one thing that still had blood running through it, or money, or both.

In your piece the scene was carved out from something, or cracked from it like an eggshell, or maybe even bombed out and we were seeing the remains. I stared into your room.

When it arrived, your piece did things to my body. It opened and I tried to open too. I thought as I walked and my body hurt and my loved ones were sick and my heart was broken and my lips got chapped in the dry air of a place that wasn’t my home. But I tried to relate to it. I tried to suck myself toward the white glow at the center of your drawing and feel invited. Can you suck me in? What amount of vulnerability is it going to take for us to thwart narcissism? What amount of exposure to the vicious wind?

I waved to the people in the police station and in the white security cars making their rounds. They knew me because I was wearing a lanyard that said I was allowed to be in this place, unlike the houseless people who I overheard screaming in the early morning as the security people removed them from the premises. As a femme-body in cities I was taught that morning was a safe time of day to go moving out in public space. But it didn’t sound safe, those screams.

I was thinking about @whatreallymakesussafe and @whocanIcall and whether the degeneration of the year we’ve had would allow us to release the fiction that police keep us safe. Or even that punishing institutions keep us safe, or even organized. I was wondering why it was so important to be organized, how much of this was white supremacist, and how much I could let go. I had to turn in my grades, though I tried to tell my students I didn’t believe in grading. It only sort of worked.

This might or might not be what you wanted, Adam. Do you consent? Can you? The text or image doesn’t always land where we meant it to. But maybe what I’m learning is: that isn’t what matters, more the splintering of our security as we go. What will remain from this waiting?

Your piece has arrived, and I wrote to let you know: I just received your piece. This is the room I received, the language I received—so you know, just so you know. I hope you know—your piece arrived well, a piece of you well-packed, in good shape, but I hope we know, too—something came through here, came through me, and was damaged, altered on the way.

yours,
Leora

Jeremy Shuback Inner Monologues, 2021

Spoken word video 3:22 min

Lost after the end of a job, this inner monologue explores the contours of identity, the dips into depression, and an attempt to come out the other side.

Denise Treizman All in, 2021

Hand-woven textile; wool, ropes, strings, threads, tape and LED lights, 24” x 22”

I would say that, more than the specific content of our conversation, what mostly informed the creation of the work was the tone and emotions that I got from the way Jeremy read (performed) what he had written. It was a very moving and honest manifestation. My intention was to make something that within its contrasting materials and colors contains the mixed feelings that this whole period of pandemic has brought. On the one hand, the feeling of putting it all on pause, that nothing changes, no moving forward, cancelling so many plans, goals etc. but at the same time, that life goes on with its mundane problems (inevitably accentuated during this time) with its new opportunities, with life changes that still take place and go beyond the pandemic, and the struggle to seek the positive aspects of this period of time. These were all things that came up during our conversation.

There was a man in my apartment who wasn’t supposed to be there, he was engaged, happily, or happily enough, to a man who he said was good to him, who he said loved him, and he told me he loved him, too, though it was a staid, solid, responsible love. He had come over for a few hours and, as usual, it was joyful and carefree and easy, so easy, the fact that he wasn’t supposed to be here, with me, never threatened that ease, though neither did it make it more charged, exciting, dangerous, it never felt like an affair, we had wandered into our secret without really acknowledging it was a secret, it felt right and good and easy. Then he had to leave, he couldn’t sleep over, a few hours a few times a month didn’t need to be explained but a sleepover demands a bigger lie, which the pandemic precluded, though even if there was no pandemic he wouldn’t have slept over because that’d unravel the illusion we’d unwittingly co-created, that this was normal and good and innocent. He opened the door to leave and there was a package on the floor. What is this, he said, picking it up and handing it to me. It was lumpy, size and shape of a small pillow, brown paper packaging with my name and address written in marker, and on the back there was a name and address I didn’t recognize. I have no idea, I said. I have to go, he said. I never argued, never pleaded or asked him to stay if even for a little bit. I didn’t know how to say it, because I didn’t let myself feel it, because I didn’t pursue, I didn’t pressure,this was the principled thing to do, or so I told myself, the right thing to do, but it was also the easy thing to do, and that is what this was, easy, so easy. I have to go, he repeated, but he didn’t go, he wanted to know what was in the package, he wanted to stay a little longer. I unwrapped, he watched, I removed the contents, he took off his jacket and sat down. It was a tapestry, and strange, asymmetrical, patterns interrupting patterns; it had soft metallic edges and was, in places, artfully destroyed, and it had a cable, it could be plugged in. What is this and who sent it to you, he said. I don’t know, I said, are you jealous? No, he said. But I love it, what would you call it? (He loved naming things.) I can name it after you, I said. No, definitely not, he said, when I go I like to be gone. Fine, I said, not taking the bait, what about ‘Existence’? That’s a stupid name, he said, but fine, plug it in, I really have to go. I plugged it in and it glowed, sparkled, pulsed, it was threaded with tiny LEDs. Huh, I said, look at that. Boring, he said, I thought it would explode, or at the very least make a noise. I’m going to put it on the wall, I said, where it belongs. (I loved putting things where they belong.) Did you even notice, he said, putting his jacket back on, that I am wearing a ring? I did, I said. Were you going to say anything? he said. No, I said, what am I supposed to say? You don’t have to respond, he said, giving me a goodbye kiss. You’re just supposed to tell me you noticed, that’s all I want.

Michal Birnbaum Noah’s Arc, 2020

Screenplay, short fiction

The symbol of Noah’s ark as a place of confinement, in which many family members need to get along, struck me as extremely and oddly relevant for COVID’s lockdowns. At the time, many politicians and leaders were documented breaking the lockdown rules and traveling while it was prohibited. I wanted to capture this type of corruption during unprecedented times in a light-hearted way because I’d rather laugh at this than get really angry, which I did anyway. I also enjoy thinking of Biblical characters as humans who make earthly mistakes, and often wonder about leadership and hierarchy in Judaism.

Lauren Zoll “ !”, 2021

PH controlled Black bean Dye, gauche, latex paint in Archival clay board, 24”x18”

I have made art with beans and bean ink to help connect viewers to art by using something familiar, magical, even kind of funny. Ultimately with the organic material came the properties that Bio materials have. A life cycle. Living paintings emulate humans living around living viruses, changes occur. Painted with science lab dropper (dots were initially used to be friendly familiar forms), black bean dye (navy color) will oxidize as a person living with painting will decide to hang it under hard direct light or soft ambient light. The chosen light will affect change into the painting very quickly or slowly over time. The dye however is PH controlled to last as long as possible but is not totally stable (blue lasts longer than reds in the world of conservation). The black latex paint I have used before as reflective material, so the picture of the painting will reflect its environment, which also changes. But in this painting the black circle almost takes one into a portal (akin to pandemic time portal). Does the black circle reflect or pull you in? Never have I before used black bean dye and black latex in the same work (usually separated bodies) but this conversation brought up hierarchies – and my issues are with hierarchies of paint (development, design, conservation). I have been dealing with only having open/flexible people collect the work bc it will change over time and I have advice for hanging it. HOWEVER with Michals mentioning of script to writer to stage – Made in Contact let’s the receiver also have a play in how the moving image or living painting changes with time. So this is for Caroline to have a role and others after! Hopefully each time the painting gets photographed it’s change will reveal itself over time.

On “     !” or, An Exploration of the Collective and the Individual via Black Bean Dye and Latex Paint

What role are we each playing, in our painted lives and in the larger abstract group? I cycle through various pieces of clothing, sentences my mouth tries on, ways of caring for the people around me, more or less attached. Curation, observation, facilitation—these are some modes I occupy as I move through my days, turning my head this way and that like an owl, trying to see in every direction.

When the pandemic time portal arrives, I carry it throughout my new apartment, seeing how I might travel through or with the black dot. An image changes shape depending on how the light gets in / gets through, what holiness or tiredness I see in the reflection of my face. The small dots congregate around my body, and they feel like friends.

A few weeks after the painting arrives, I travel across town to a lake, and spend most of Shabbat there. People of all ages cluster, arranging and re-arranging themselves too quickly for me to track. The playground of little ones is a circus, wild with shouting, rife with footprints in dirt. The market contains older people standing in line, exchanging money for mushrooms. A grassy field reflects the current environment. After many hours in the good sun, rambling along with a group of friends, I long to be home with the black dot, where time is still and what’s going on with you? is not the refrain.

I bring the painting in and out of the direct sun and dappled afternoon light— will I be able to see the (ink) change? I look out over the expanse of the past year. Someone I love says that spring is the time when you can finally understand the lessons of the previous year, when something in your life becomes clearer in the reflecting.

As the month presses on, I send and receive emails and text messages. People are gathering in circles, at particular times of the week and moments in the moon cycle. How will we raise our voices in song in the particular way that we did before? The space between the end of a wordless melody and the start of a new one is the sliver of white space between the ink dots.

While walking in my neighborhood cemetery, a friend says he is uninterested in attending a virtual gathering on psychedelics and Judaism, he would rather talk about meaningful prayer and I really wonder what is the difference. We weave our way through the gravestones, coordinated in tidy lines, and I say there is an opportunity in every moment for some kind of prayer. Should we press our knees into the just-trimmed grass? That might be too dramatic, and our people don’t do that, but how great might it be to humble our bodies before something bigger than ourselves?

Perhaps I would feel a sweet relief at sinking into the ground and giving up my attempts at control.

I can’t make it, is the new refrain to a variety of invitations. I’m putting my individual needs before the collective. I assemble my arguments, marshalling people who claim to want to be in community and ask, what do you need? what do we need? If we could leap through the portal of self, through the black dot of emptiness, into an ocean of oxidized ink and caring for each other and holding ourselves among the heaving blue changes, then what would be possible? A lot more than the present-tense, I hope.

Caroline Kessler
April 21, 2021

Rae Stern Gray | Yellow Triptych (from the Sidewalk Series), 2020-2021

Iphone 11 Pro photographs digitally collaged

As time stretches, folds and unravels, the focus shifts towards the layers that cover the landscape. Are these layers of protection or are they masking the view? The city is still.

Roni Packer Yellow | Gray, 2021

Enamel paint on canvas, mosquito net, and gold grommets, 10.5"x8"

Beside the fact of being at home and not traveling – which we all experienced, Rae also lived under scaffolding for a long long time. We talked about that a lot and the hunger for sun and daylight. The net in the piece is something that I never used before (in general I work almost only with paint and canvas) and it’s because of the images and stories that Rae shared with me. It’s not a scaffolding net but a mosquito one because I wanted it to be a gray net. I wanted to bring gray into the piece because we talked a lot about color (my obsession with yellow) and Rae told me about ‘her gray’ and made me think about gray in a different light. Then we talked about light/sun/gray/yellow and I told her about Pantone’s colors of the year…. such a funny thing. https://www.archdaily.com/953768/pantones-color-of-the-year-2021-yellow-and-grey-in-architecture Rae also told me about her walks in the empty city (and shared her beautiful images) and I thought about being together and being by yourself, and wanted to create a window that reflects these movements.

Bonny Nahmias Maayan Sol, 2021

Garment: reused cotton bed sheets, felt, and thread

At the onset of the pandemic, it seemed that everyone was engaged in nesting activities: cooking, baking, cleaning, completing home improvements and, for some of us, mating and conceiving. I thought of the bird as a metaphor for our lives, not flying but rooted in her nest. Despite the seeming lack of onward movement, deep changes occur for the mother bird, as they have for many of us. In my own life, this was characterized by my father’s sudden passing and, shortly after, my becoming a mother. As life opens back up, I think again about the bird returning to its full expression. This transformation evokes images of Isis, the goddess of healing, fertility, and magic. Seen here, my beating heart pumps the ceaseless waves of the ocean, and a stream of emotions gushes through my chest like a spring. All rivers run to the sea.

Gabriella Willenz Better Safe Than Sorry, 2021

Digital print on %100 cotton fabric

Bonny showed me several of her projects in which she uses the symbol to ward off the evil eye. I’m not a big believer in superstitions, but do respect the fact that everyone uses stories and belief systems to make sense of their lives and the world. The polarity and range of approaches to this pandemic is one example. My second child was born 5 months before the shelter-in-place started. I had a very hard time dealing with the stress of the unknown and being locked down with an energetic preschooler and a baby. I felt that whatever happens I, as an adult, will find a way to deal with it, but how do I protect the physical and emotional health of my kids? For this work I designed a pattern consisting of 28 symbols of prosperity and against evil forces and printed them on fabric from which I sewed baby sheets. As the French philosopher Pascal argued, from a logical standpoint, it makes more sense to believe in God, because if one does exist, well then you’re in the right, and if they don’t, well then, no harm done.

 

INDEX
GROUP A

ASSAF EVRON Untitled (Beit-El, Yanus)

KATERINA WONG The Healer

RAE STERN Gray | Yellow

MICHELLE GEVINT  Untitled

MASHA VLASOVA  The Imaginary Kaleidoscope

MILCAH BASSEL Water(s)Wishes

ROBYN AWEND Handed Down

SHASHA DOTHAN 14 Days 

MICHAL BIRNBAUM Noah’s Arc 

JEREMY SHUBACK Inner Monologues

 

PRODUCED BY

BONNY NAHMIAS  Maayan Sol

GABRIELLA WILLENZ Better Safe Than Sorry

GROUP B

NOA CHARUVI Beit El

EFRAT HAKIMI Untitled

RONI PACKER  Yellow | Gray

ALICJA GASKON  Convex / Concave

NOA YEKUTIELI Behind The Front Yard

LIAT BERDUGO  Spectra 

ANNIE ALBAGLI we become vessels for everything going on / micro and macro

ADAM LIAM ROSE  Inner Conflicts

LAUREN ZOLL  “              !”

DENISE TREIZMAN  “All in”

GROUP C

SIMON CRAFTS House Of God

JONATHAN ROTSZTAIN  The Healer Redux

EG ASHER Made In Contact, May, 2021

ELISABETH NICULA On Convex / Concave

BORIS FISHMAN  Behold The Man Detained By Thought

ARIELLE ANGEL  Questions for a Stranger About This Moment in History

SOPHIE BARBASCH  “Unraveling the Illusion of Separateness”

LEORA FRIDMAN Who Can I Call

CAROLINE KESSLER On “              !” or, An Exploration of the Collective and the Individual via Black Bean Dye and Latex Paint

MAX RESNICK Untitled

Conceived and produced by Gabriella Willenz and Bonny Nahmias
Supported by Asylum Arts
Digital artbook designed by Bonny Nahimas and Gabriella Willenz
Digital artbook programing by Asa Wolfson