Earthenware, pigments, glazes, gold luster.
Slipcast, handbuilt, overglaze print, electric firing.
Photos : Leonid Padrul, © Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv
About the work:
The “A tribute” series is composed of portraits of women in clay, in the tradition of portraiture.
The faces of the women photographed in the portraits are those of Edward Muybridge’s models. These were prostitutes, members of the lower classes, who were models in his study of movement, whom he and others who see his work refer to as “generic women” – symbolizing a “woman” rather than a specific woman. In my previous work “A Greek Tragedy” I used sequences taken by Muybridge to discuss female roles from the same generalizing perspective. In this work, I shift the focus from the bodies and the activities to the faces, creating a large portrait of each one of them with her distinct personality.
The process of magnification and refocusing of the old photographs allows one to discover the unique features, facial expressions, head positions, and glances which, unlike a deliberate painted or photographed portrait, are not specifically selected for the occasion. Muybridge’s aim for scientific realism contrasts with the idealization of classic portrait painting.
To me the act of focusing on a face is of great significance, and it is it I enclose in a frame.
In art history, the frame has a distinct significance and its own meaning. A frame in general, and a luxurious frame in particular, is a symbol of importance, centrality, respectability and social status. In the past it was often customary to combine in frames symbols of aristocratic families or attributes and other symbols which hinted to the personality, characteristics, and social status of the portrait’s subject. From my inventory of molded objects, I chose to use the carpet beater as an attribute and a potentially classical ornament, most of the frames in the series are based on it.
The relationship between the picture and the frame, in this case, both made out of the same material and by the same person who is both the artist (the portraitist) and the craftsman (the frame maker) enables the examination of design-craft-art relations, hierarchy and boundaries in one material- ceramics.
Hanging of the portraits on a wall associates them to the realm of art alongside painting and sculpture, and emphasizes the properties of the ceramic material – mass, volume, and fragility versus gravity.
In this work I attempt to change the way viewers perceive both the social status of these Victorian-era prostitutes and the status of ceramic craft in the field of art.