Gili Avissar | Wild Yellow | Solo Exhibition
Parasite as a host
Photography by Yuval Chai
Wild Yellow, the new installation by Gili Avissar, is built as a composite, multi-part performative environment. Next to its sculptural components, made of wooden parts soaked in massive paint layers, we also find ready-made and crafted objects, hand-sewn costumes and bodysuits, a large tapestry piece and a video work. This current installation has its origin in Urban Remains, a previous installation of Avissar’s exhibited about a year ago at Kav 16 Gallery (curator: Sally Haftel-Naveh). With the closure of Urban Remains its constituting parts travelled back to his studio, where they were reworked, remodeled, and reorganized, to be turned into the constituting parts of his current work. Wild Yellow should be seen as the reincarnation of a previous work whose parts were disjointed and then restructured together through the massive application of paint-layers.
The current installation, despite relying on the material remnants of a previous work, has evolved independently, according to new conditions of time and place. This new whole presents us with an inventory of highly individualized, idiosyncratic items: a fan in the shape of phallus, a guillotine and a dismantled heating element, which Avissar reassembled as a robot. This new inventory is the result of a hectic yet ingenious work of assemblage unified by the application paint. Its components join together, forming a dynamic and modular body which inhabits a vacant space in an old house on Nachmani Street, currently awaiting renovation. This empty space, formerly housing a café, enabled Avissar to make the most of the creative options with regard to a given space.
By the extensive, all-encompassing use of it, the color yellow here becomes a place; by its materializing in a specific, actual site it unfolds an ongoing process of camouflage and erasure, dismantling and rebuilding. Avissar, whose work is often synonymous with a rough yet poetic sculptural touch, is no less an action artist: “More than I intend to build something new, I seek to erase the memory of what was there before, so as not to enclose myself in a depository of past works,” he says. This continual shifting and reworking of past artifacts should be understood in terms of a freedom of movement – but not as an abstract ideal, rather as an adherence to a continuum that unfolds from one work to the next, constituting each step as a localized station in an evolving sculptural and performative body of work. The current installation incorporates this developmental course while tackling the various modes of conversion it entails, whether metaphorical or mediumal; hence we move from architectonic model to life-size installation, from sculpture to the elements of a video, and from a life environment into live performance. These pertain to notions of whole and parts, customization, re-contextualizing and the dynamics of a material artifacts in a given time and place.
An inseparable part of these transformative processes is the video and photographic documentation which Avissar undertakes in the studio. After having transferred Urban Remains back to his studio he began to ‘erase’ its parts by soaking them in heavy layers of paint – a process which he accompanied by a fervent self-documentation. From separate parts the installation again assumed a unified form, with the resulting installation comprising in fact an alternative studio, built-in within the regular one; and inside this space, which gradually became a pulsating core with a life of its own, emerged a series of creatures that the artist himself embodied, wearing a series of costumes of his own making. Following “Wild Yellow”, the first figure in the series, came a list of other figures, each characterized by a different color. As the series progressed these characters became increasingly eclectic in shape and color. In addition to these he weaved a work of tapestry that in the final installation is hung as a partition.
The opening event of Wild Yellow included a performance participated by Avissar and others who wore the artist’s creations from head to toe. These special items of clothing, which make-up an integral part of the space where they were designated to be worn, covered the participants’ faces as well. The material environment of the installation thus became a ground of an artistic performance the signs of which it was designed to contain: the artist’s unique imprint on that space, the particular marks left by his ongoing presence there and his circulation amidst that particular space. The viewers were invited to witness a theatrical space where they could enter and immerse themselves in Avissar’s elusive and artful environment – a subliminal realm where ready-made and fiction intertwine. But more than merely theatrical, this day-to-day environment exposes the viewers to the signs of the artist’s prolonged stay there – an experience which in turn propels for him the creative process and back again.
Avissar’s appears in his performance not as an actor presiding a stage but rather as an integral part of a living environment. By this he seeks to outline a new reality for himself – an intermediate state between an ongoing performance unlimited in time and the daily reality of an artist in his studio. It is for him a space of being and creating. This position manifests – even if paradoxically – the mental input and state of mind which were invested in the making of this abundant environment we see before us; an environment we are then able to experience not through its material features alone, but also through its conceptual basis, which opens the viewer to a further dimension in experiencing it.