Daphna Weinstein

contact: daphna@avaklavan.com

My work instigate polar relationship as a journey, analyzing the world around me from various positions.  The  distance between horror / joy, emotional / rational, conscious / unconscious, private / public and how it tend to operate together.  The subject matter of my work may include human behavior, cultural difficulty, anthropology, the all-mighty political world compare to its juxtaposition banal everyday minuscule individuality.
Within this very large disciplinary circle the unifying line is a sense of contemplation and critical thinking. As described by Roland Barthes: laboratory of situation in which the main tool is the power of speculations. This manifest itself in the process of drawing and a great need of producing artifacts, those occupy the space in the format of drawing installations.

Hello Daphna and welcome to NotRandomArt. The current issue is revolving around the problem of identity. Is there any particular way you would describe your identity as an artist but also as a human being in dynamically changing, unstable times? In particular, does your cultural substratum/identity form your aesthetics?

I am from Israel, the land of contrasts. There is the political Israeli – Palestinian clash, nationalism, religious domination, that penetrate through the society at whole as well as individuals bringing about a great sense of insecurity and agitation. As my awareness to contrasts grew, I could clearly see that every subject is actually two subjects. One is the black side of it: the anti, the opposing, the lack of it and the other supportive, constructive, solution based and in general optimistic.
Even the landscape of Israel, which I love provide a form of contrast. One can travel relatively fast between the pale green and red soil of central Israel (called the lowland) and within less then an hour be in the yellow desert. Go out for a drink in a bar in Tel Aviv and at the same time see soldiers with guns.
The scenery consist of contrasts, roughness, rawness that is also blessed with an intelligent sensations, creating somewhat anti-aesthetic aesthetics. Even today I feel as if I am walking a thin thread between those two extremes and I my self play between the anti-aesthetic and the aesthetic forms of making art

Would you like to tell us something about your background? Could you talk a little about experiences that has influence the way you currently relate yourself to your artworks?

Not so much! But everything that have happened, everything I witnessed actually empowered me to search further and to do what I do.

Could you identify a specific artwork that has influenced your artistic practice or has impacted the way you think about race and ethnic identity in visual culture?

To condense my relationship with art into one piece of work…. I may not be able to do that.
At the Israel Museum, Jerusalem there are couple of paintings by Oskar Kokoschka, Marc Chagall and René Magritte, I knew exactly where they are situated and I started every visit of the museum there. It is easy to see how at the age of 15-17 I positioned myself between the ideas of expressionism, and discourse of imaginary and reality.
After feeling somewhat overwhelmed by it all I found Henri Matisse, I was puzzled by his ability to flatten space and still keep the painting so deep. He has several painting of the interior of his studio and in particular the painting from Atelier in Red, 1911. I had this teacher in university who was somewhat contemptuous about a similar work, saying that how can anybody stay in his studio to paint models and pleasing rooms while a war is raging out side. I had to think about it to conclude; that is why I respect his work so much. He did not paint that way despite the turmoil, Matisse painted that way because of the unrest around him. He did not join the war he was looking for other ways of looking.
2001 the Tate Modern showed Italian Art, one side was Zero to Infinity: Arte Povera, the other side was Giorgio Morandi. Reopening The dialogue of screaming silently or whispering ear-splitting thunder.
Now let´s focus on your art production: A Choir of breathing Jars. We would suggest our readers to watch the piece in order to experience the abstract synergy of sound, light and movement.
When I thought about the piece I did not thing about commemoration or the Holocaust, I could not have done it even if I tried to. This subject is much too difficult and much too close to me. The work was conceive before I knew about the possibility to install a work in this specific memorial tunnel. But the moment I learnt about the possibility to install some work there, I knew that it will be difficult but I also knew it will be a big thing. Even for the sheer reason that I always try hard to avoid the subject.
For a while I was trying to capture the essence of the wind. It is employing my mind for few years now (and still going on) The wind and all it can bring with it; the people, the knowledge. What can it changes, what can it ruins, what can it makes? Wind in this context is an element of JOURNEY.
2014- 2015 I made the installation called With the air, 2015. Thinking about the extreme difficulty, to capture the essence of the air around us: the temperature, the humidity, the touch, the flow. The residue it leaves, knowledge, spirituality and other quintessence that comes with it or after it´s leaves. In this installation I was searching for indirect proof, (proof by contradiction) or some verification to the air´s essence. Black balloons are filled with flour in order to guarantee no air is resting in the balloons. Sand colour balloon where blown (filled with air) and forced into glass jars, air with air, to form symmetry. Choir of breathing Jars came after, and was answering issues I could not fulfil in the previous work. In this work I wanted to consider nothingness, as something worth paying attention to. It is often invisible just like the air around us and just as important. Nothingness is condense as a vacuum or the colour of light, and still we can not see it. I wish to make this invisibility visible or if it cannot be visible then at list we should be able to feel it in another way. The concept of nothingness makes me somewhat tense, I feel the tingle in the tip of my fingers; a split moment before I have to run away or burst with laughter. The nothingness is not a point of still standing but a point of contemplation and the realisation of what is actually there.In this installation I wanted to acknowledge the pattern of transformation, even if I my self did not know what will happened to the pattern. And so I found out the beauty of something natural that is evoked by the unpredictable force. The smallest detail may create a great deviation from the pattern by means of echoing. This constant metamorphosis become part of the structure pattern. And the individual is forever in the position of having to analyse the surrounding and act to retaliate the situation. It is only when I installed it in such a large scale, that I could hear and feel that. I am very grateful to the “Festival Der Regionen” upper Austria for their support.
Installing the piece in the KZ memorial tunnel was a crucial act of giving it a very particular context. However it is important to recognise, that the installation does not depend on the place but enhanced greatly by the context of the space. This work follow the traces of air but actually defines the essence of society for its many strength and values and for its many weaknesses too. The ability to exist in a form of a group is a great virtue, and the diversity makes it all difficult but crucial to survival of the specie. This is a place that the search for humanity and society were tested and failed. The memorial aspect of this inhuman situation for many years, imply silence, and so I had the great honour to try and break the silence.

Roland Barthes stated: “For me the noise of Time is not sad: I love bells, clocks, watches — and I recall that at first photographic implements were related to techniques of cabinetmaking and the machinery of precision: cameras, in short, were clocks for seeing, and perhaps in me someone very old still hears in the photographic mechanism the living sound of the wood.” The formal aspects of your installation seem to correspond with this image. Could you tell us more about your esthetical and formal search, leading you to achieve the fullest expression of your ideas?
The best way the look at it a search for aesthetics is evolution, it is a never ending process of expansion. An idea needs time to develop, to mature. 2013 I made Like X to Y, and only when I installed the finished product I realised that it is extremely silence, that it is screaming silence. With this experience I become aware to sounds. So in fact only when I experienced the absence of a thing I become aware to this topic / motif. I found the aesthetics of sounds; the sounds of a murmur, the sound of the electricity at night time, the sound of sleeping and the sound of breathing.

How do you see the relationship between emotional and intellectual perception of your work? In particular, how much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience?

For me as a maker and a viewer, emotional is part of the intellectual process. Both emotional as well as intuition do not stand lower the logical and rational intellect. The best results are when both functions together. There are many people, in other professions such as medicine, law, science describing their ability to perform in an extra ordinary way as intuition. And this is exactly that, it is part of our intellect, the emotional / intuition and the rational. When not functioning together the subject become an esoteric lecture but when all operate together it turns to be an experience.

Your installations provide audience with a multi-sensorial experience. They can give both meditative and overwhelming experience. Your works are strictly connected to the chance of establishing a deep involvement with your audience, both on the intellectual, emotional and – I dare to say – physical level. I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process? In particular, how much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience? How important is for you the feedback from the receivers of your artworks?

Thank you, The ability to create an experience is an uplifting joy for me.
In the Memorial Tunnel in Ebensee, Austria I got to talk with some of the visitors, it was so interesting. Some said they have been before, some never been although living nearby. Many said that the piece made it easier to enter the place. Many people were happy to be engaged in a dialogue. I then realised the importance of memorial as an act for the living.
For me the process is as well an experience like a journey I take, and each step teach me something with each mark I make I get better.

Before taking leave from this interesting conversation, we would like to ask if, in your opinion, art can change the future for racial and ethnic identity? How can art help to make sense of these complex histories?

Art is a wonderful thing, in particular great is that it is totally useless. But the artist themselves are very good normally at exploring other ways of thinking.
Throughout the histories “war industry” developed and grew stronger. Now is the time to develop peace industry ( derivative from an interview by Yoko Ono) and many people follow the idea.

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Daphna. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?
This is truly hard to answer but the wind is still strong…

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