Maayan Shahar | Guest : Ghost

Maayan Shahar, an outstanding graduate of the Department of Ceramic and Glass Design – Bezalel, and a Bezalel Master of Arts student, presents her first solo exhibition at the gallery in Beeri, halfway between the two studios where she works, in Tel Aviv and Kibbutz Tze’elim. Her hybrid installations are created by her surroundings’ influence on her, moving between the quiet desert landscape to the vibrant urbanity, embodying within them the search for impossible connections and tensions between immediate nature and cultivated culture and between statics and movement. The exhibition at the Beeri gallery combines a variety of natural and synthetic materials in a limited color palette, some stationary and some rotating on their axis simultaneously and at different rhythms. Natural materials she finds in her immediate vicinity, such as branches and dry shrubs, connect somewhat ironically and surprisingly with industrial materials such as fabrics, wires, rubber, and car tires, welded iron, and motors. They create fascinating sculptural bodies, some standing-hanging in space and some dancing, rotating on their axis in a puzzling and meaningless fashion as if resurrected. These objects infuse the viewer with a magical feeling, and their simplicity captivates the heart. Dry branches and twigs emerge from a high wall cabinet in the gallery space and descend to the floor like a waterfall. A branch is connected to a branch by a Shrink, taken from the electrical technicians’ world. The artificially created “natural” thicket becomes an organic rhizome. The artist’s occupation with dry twigs recurs in three other works: she composed a dry shrub – the Kochia indica, mistaken as the Tournefort’s gundelia, which is very common throughout the Negev. The shrub dries out, is torn from its roots, rolls in the wind, and thus disperses its seeds. The dry shrub is attached to a black iron arm and engine and rotates on its axis. The engine artificially produces the movement of the wind in nature. A dry reed topped by a feathery inflorescence is attached to a thin-threaded black “collar” that flutters elegantly as the reed rotates on its motorized axis, giving the reed a sense of a dancing figure resembling a scarecrow.

Next to the branches and dry bushes, there’s a tall statue, a pillar entirely covered with stuffed black cloth “fingers” sewn together, like a hairy head. When it’s rotated by an industrial engine, it looks like a vehicle cleaning and washing facility. Instead of cleaning, it gently strokes or whips, giving friendly slaps. Next to it, on the floor, is a “lily.” Those velvety black fingers, upside down, form a black flower that grows from the floor. A white neon light wash gives the gallery space a cold industrial character. It is accompanied by an increased mechanical sound of engine creaking and a rubbing noise that also mimics wind noise, water falling, or crackling fire.

The exhibition name “Guest: ghost” is a wordplay in Hebrew, which familiarly sounds like “patience” but actually brings up the idea of a guest, visiting, accommodation, migration to the southern region, and settling in it. The artist experiences and studies the Negev, its people, vegetation, and geographical and cultural uniqueness. The wind is the same wind created from the engines’ rotation, the movement that the artist puts into her sculptures, but it is also the spirit of the distant, quiet, calm, and magical place. Another element that accompanies the occurrence is amplifying the engines’ sounds, the friction when turning, and their re-weaving into a kind of tight harmony. The repetitive mechanical sound becomes rhythmic and fills the gallery space.


Dr. Ziva Jelin

Sofie Berzon MacKie, Dr. Ziva Jelin


More images from the exhibition