A gym mat made of carefully cut and reassembled venetian blinds; a carpet whose pattern is created by a multitude of metal staples individually applied by the artist with a manual stapler; a curtain whose fabric consists of metal clips tight one to the other; these are only some of the conceptually-artisanal and time-consuming tasks Naama Arad gives herself in order to create her unique works of art. At the same time the results of these tasks never immediately show the amount of energy that the artist invested in their making; quite the opposite, they are presented with a degree of nonchalance and carelessness that is deeply organic to Arad’s position as an artist. This contradictory position—the artist as a laborious maker of objects empty of any functional, social or aesthetic value—becomes even more acute when the result carries a monumental and architectural tone; this is particularly visible in two cases: the first is a series of black lines through which the artist took control of the peculiar shape of the exhibition space hosting her solo show at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in 2015; the second is EL AL (2012) in which a found image of a Roman arch is printed—scaled down to 355 x 291 cm—Xeroxed, shredded and finally exhibited hanging from the ceiling.
In her new body of work all the aforementioned issues are still present but at the same time they coexist with a new desire to ‘humanize’ living and nonliving forms. Deeply aligned with the current discourse within contemporary culture—which links artificial intelligence to animism—and yet completely disconnected, Arad’s recent oeuvres can be defined as “anatomical détournement”; through these actions a metal dustpan is turned into a female foot; a lamp becomes a standing figure, approaching us with its food and brain “on view”; a cactus plant and two Hookah pipes appear to us in their true phallic shapes. Often constructed through a symbiotic relationship—the clay and the metal, the cactus and the pipes—this new body of work is driven by a unique position that stands between the psychoanalyst and the bricoleur, the artistic and the childish, the apathetic and the emotional.
- Nicola Trezzi