Wednesday, December 24, 2008

23.12.08 "Bizarre Perfection" exposition in the Israel Museum (Jerusalem) "עשויים להפליא"

I hesitated whether or not to go and I came back with a euphoric feeling.
It's been a long time since I remember I felt this way.
I went to the exposition mainly to see the famous Kitchen of Lisa Lou.

Can you imagine yourself, especially if you are a beadworker, waking up every day to your project, gluing beads one by one, a bead after bead from giant bags of bugle beads, during 5 years???? 5 years! It's 365*5= 1825 days!
Being absolutely swallown into your project, not being influenced of the bad critics and feedbacks of other people, keep on till the last bead to finish such a tremendous project?
Waking up to a new day - when you are not getting payed and you do not know how you are going to eat and with what? I think it's a mystery, not talking about how handling the renting and other day to day expenses.
I am totally full of fear and appreciation to such a strong belief in self or belief to death. It is exceptional and to be admired. Not to say, that there is a thought behind every object, the entire concept, the cynical remarks about the "good suburban woman and wife" and so on.
I was surprised that the major part of the kitchen is hand-glued and not beaded (=weaved with thread). Additionally, most of the Kitchen (I would say at least 95%) is done with bugle beads and not the usual round ones. Maybe the grill grid with the cherry pie, covered in pink is beaded with thread (and also other objects). An interesting detail about this pie, is that there is a book, of course totally covered with beads, open on the page with the appropriate recipe of the cherry pie, all written with beads :-)
The sink was said to be inspired from the "Starry Night" by Vincent Van Goch.
There is a motif of melamine /wood imitation on the furniture of the Kitchen, which is also an homage for an artist which I unfortunately don't recall the name.
Many of the objects are true objects, such as the fridge and the stove. However, the towel, map and curtains are made out of Papier-mâché covered with hand glued beads.
Her result is a pleasure to the eye, or as Svetlana Eltsova likes to say, it's an eye candy.
You can also read more about the Kitchen here.
One more thing regarding the kitchen, is that it was laying in boxes in the private collection of Peter Norton (the same Norton of the ANtiVirus). He wouldn't agree the "Kitchen" to be moved because of the high sensitivity of the objects. I still don't know how the Israel Museum succeeded to convince him to borrow it for the exposition (if anyone knows, please tell me :-) ), but he finally agreed and the kitchem arrived to Israel in 24 boxes, everything well wrapped.

In the exposition, there were other very interesting objects:
  • Tara Donovan Wooden toothpicks cube. Susan Landau explained us how it was reproduced in the museum based on the artist instructions. Giant amount of Mixed toothpicks pressed densely in a cube (5 faces), layer after layer and when completely filled, the screws were released and the wooden faces fell down. A toothpick cube - without any glue, stood on the floor!
  • Ron Mueck Two old women. So realistic, but only 80 cm height. A genius work, that doesn't omit any details, the wedding ring, the face and hand wrinkles, the pantyhose creases, the small worn out shoes and coats, the dimple next to the eyebrow, the small moustache, the typical haircut. By the way, we were told that the hair was transplanted one by one in a silicon-fiberglass mold over the clay sculpture, which is then painted so realistically.
  • Steve Wolfe's Cartons. Everything from scratch, manually painted and imprinted in special techniques, formed from cardboard or wood. As Magritte wrote "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" (or "this is not a pipe"), so "this is not cartons nor books".
  • Gioacchino Rinaldi's enamel micromosaics. Looks as an oil painting but is a woowy micromosaics. Incredible!
  • Malaysian Ceremonial dance jacket (sape manik). Called Kenyah beadwork (not to confuse with the African "Kenia" country). It is a netting very similar if not identical to netting used by Russian beadworkers. Check p.56-57 in Valerie Hector's Book "The art of Beadwork", to see similar Dayak Kaletau (humanlike figures).
  • Miniature carnelian cat and man found in an anthropoid cuffin.
  • Miniature Jewish handwriting of "Shir Hashirim" chapters, as a Succoth ornament, on an egg, as well as other miniature books and microcaligraphics.
  • Chinese “Devil’s Work” ivory ball. This is absolutely one of the most spectacular and mysterious things I have ever seen. It is a Chinese Hand Carved Ivory Ball in Balls Puzzle which contains 14 carved balls within balls. I was sure there is a trick and somewhere I could find where it was glued, but NO! This is made of ONE piece of ivory, sort of "drilled" with special tools (ancient ones) to form a small ball. Then, a bigger ball above him, till you reach the last exterior one, which is said to be the most intricate and most difficult to make. I didn't completely understood how it is done, it looks like someone creates balls as an internal surgery in the dark, really as a blind and formed virtuously, with deep concentration and mathematical understanding/intuition a fabulous lace texture. This was for me the most striking object and I still wander how long it took to make it. In this context, we have the beaded balls of Judy Walker "Beaded Sphere", only that there it's done by making one small bead , then inserting it while making a bigger one and so on (and not vice versa as in the Chinese devil ball). There is also Ana Gautier glass ball in balls necklace that I saw recently in the Yaniv Glass Gallery in Tel Aviv, but I also guess she prepared first the most interior one and created the others above. Unfortunately, there is no picture to this necklace that I can address you to (unless you want to see it in the gallery).

I arrived to the exposition an hr before the "gallery conversation" (guided tour) began, held by Susan Landau, the curator of "Bizarre Perfection". At its end, I was filled with fascination! I was so enriched with interesting details and stories, I just couldn't ask more.

What is so interesting in this exposition is all the surprises you detect and discover (or not) within the virtuously/geniusly made pieces. You may go next to a piece and don't notice anything special - but here you are wrong! Each piece has its secret. One is done with thousands of enamel micromosaics and weights 300 Kg but looks like a normal oil painting, one is done with million of beads, but looks as a kitchen and another is embroidered panels as if painted with a Japanese brush with all the texture and color nuances, you wouldn't even notice it's embroidered.

It's been a while that I admire her work and I dreamt to fly to the USA one day, to see, among others, her extraordinary beadwork art creations. I couldn't believe while I heard from beadworker friends that the kitchen is going to be exposed in the Israel Museum. That was so exciting! [I may sound a bit over enthusiastic, I know ;-) ]

Liza Lou "Kitchen" (1991-1995)

Lisa lou's Kitchen was done during five years of meticulous work, she even "became antisocial and undernourished while finishing Kitchen (1995) and also developed acute tendinitis in her hands"(citation from Christopher Bagley ). In a gentle way, it can be said that her work has not been appreciated to its proper value for a period of time. It can be easily categorized as obsessive, but Liza Lou says in a recent interview with Christopher Bagley, in W art and Design, “What’s far more frightening for people is to consider the possibility that I’m completely aware of what I’m doing" (Liza Lou). This is so true.

All the planning and concept to think about for such a project, can you imagine what a self invest and devotion? I checked closely one of the Kitchen wall tiles. You could see the work is so accurate. I didn't notice a hole. All the holes were filled with size 11 round beads or bugles leftovers (I think it is leftovers because if Liza lou treated each bugle bead as a mosaic stone and cut it with special tools, it would have taken her 15 years and not 5, but I may be wrong). The flooring tiles were shining and sparkling. She got this effect, not only by using the bugle beads which are very shiny, but also by making circles aside circles in the bead mosaics (this is also an homage to a minimalistic artist that I don't recall the name). What a patience? She is surely a very special person.

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