In After the Wind, Avital Cnaani creates abstract and forceful Formica landscapes. She cuts the material by hand, slices it into strips, piles it or bends it into arches – thus producing hollow, empty objects, bent to the very limit of their flexibility, or flat, torn ones. Cnaani places these objects in space – as though effortlessly, incidentally. The body leans, the body falls, the body drops – as though encased within a weight, sometimes heavy, sometimes light. Cnaani deconstructs the body. Strewn organs, parts projecting out of her own body – hands, hairs, tail; but also of an arid desert landscape – a well, stains, sticks, dry leaves. This is a collection of unraveled organs, and no attempt is made to reunite it. It is laid down in space unsystematically, untidily, intuitively. Drooping landscapes.
Cnaani’s After the Wind is inspired by the memory of both real and imaginary encounters with childhood landscapes that were etched into her consciousness; to a significant extent, these are also collective and universal memories. Cnaani invites the viewer to take part in the experience of encountering the place as a metaphorical environment – its views, histories and representations. These landscapes have retained their primordial essence, but have experienced an event or motion through time. The artist deconstructs and abstracts these landscapes and associates them with the realms of the consciousness, with the way the body – her own – reacts to its meeting with those charged landscapes, as well as with gender and personal aspects.
Cnaani worked with Formica in the early days of her career, and has recently revisited this material – which usually has no existence in its own right, but is rather attached to another material as a thin coating or protective layer. In the present exhibition, Formica requires no other material to define it, thus becoming the key component. Nevertheless, the artist remains loyal to cheap, raw industrial wood with which she has been working throughout the years. This materiality is strongly associated with Israel, with the local Want of Matter trend and its present-day incarnations, as well as with popular design whose traditions are deeply rooted here and imprinted into the local DNA. Cnaani’s work is also somewhat related to the Anti-Form trend followed by female sculptors worldwide since the latter half of the 20th century. These sculptors use alternative materiality – industrial and unpolished; multiplicity and repetition; abstract installations in space; and the translation of personal experiences into a statement with feminist contexts, offering an alternative to the male discourse which had dominated the art scene.
After the Wind
Curator: Ronna Sela