New York-based artist Tamar Ettun’s solo show explores how daily rituals, colour and the body can be indicative of emotions that reflect the state of a society’s political affairs.
Israeli artist Tamar Ettun’s first solo exhibition in Sweden at Uppsala Art Museum, “The Yellow Who Wants”, closes on 21 August 2016, and is a discourse between sculpture and performance that examines the body’s relationship to everyday objects and by extension the world around us.
Tamar Ettun (b.1982, Jerusalem) is a New York-based artist of Israeli origin who works across multiple media including sculpture, performance and installation. As she explains in her artist statement,
My work attempts to invert the usual conception of movement and stillness in relation to the ephemeral, I am interested in finding stillness in movement and movement in the still/sculpture and see how they contradict and complement each other. The sculptures embody physical gestures, or have potential for activation by the viewers (such as musical instruments). In the performances, the performers are still or fixed either to the ground or to one another, and there is no development or resolved narrative throughout the performances. Therefore the moving bodies lose their temporality and become lasting, like a moment that happens over and over in time.
“The Yellow Who Wants” at Uppsala Art Museum unites Ettun’s sculptural, performance and video practices in an investigation into how the body interacts with and responds to everyday objects, as a mechanism for forming a resilient emotional navigation. Ettun’s use of colour seeks to intentionally elicit a particular corporeal response. The use of yellow is a direct reference to eros or passion and as curator Rebecka Wigh Abrahamsson describes in the exhibition catalogue,
It’s about seeing the world as if it were for the first time, and in this manner, of being emotionally smitten through inspiration and engagement. It is the combination of high and low, spanning everything from junk to classical sculpture, that this transformation process takes place.
This body of work is very much influenced by Ettun’s upbringing in Israel, where she was surrounded by very intense religious ideals and leaders. As she explains,
My resistance to this environment lead me to making works in which “eye for an eye” would become a glass eye and an avocado turning around on a blue stick. In other words, my response is an opposition to linear punishments and harsh opinions, through an intuitive and imaginary practice of art, while maintaining the necessity in the connections of materials and their ability to balance.
Ettun also served in the Israeli army for two years, which brought her face to face with post traumatic stress disorder and led her into a new field of inquiry on mental illness, trauma and labour. Specifically she is interested in the disabilities that accompany post traumatic stress disorder and she explores these through the fragmented cast body parts that appear in this exhibition, such as Foot With A Wheel (2014) and Tina With Flowers and Gastro (2016).
A key component of this is exhibition is the performance piece A Mauve bird with green feet, yellow teeth, red feathers, green feet and a rose belly. Part: yellow, performed in Uppsala by Ettun’s dance company called The Moving Company. This project was initiated in 2015 two years after the establishment of The Moving Company, and will run until 2018. It is a performance piece done in parts, the first of which was performed at the Fridman Gallery in New York. The Moving Company performs temporary sculptures in the public domain, thus expanding the traditional understandings of dance and sculpture.
A Mauve bird with green feet, yellow teeth, red feathers, green feet and a rose belly. Part: yellow, performed at the opening of this exhibition, explores the colour yellow as a symbol of ‘eros’. Part: blue, performed as part of an exhibition at Fridman Gallery, focused on empathy. For Ettun, ‘eros’ and empathy have the same origination point. ‘Eros’ understood as desire, particularly erotic desire, can bring about pain or fear, but it can also be related to ‘agape’ love, unconditional and compassionate.
When the performance Part: yellow is paired with Ettun’s sculptural work, it becomes clear that dancing and colour can work together to explore intense emotion. As scholar Ulrika Carlsson states in the exhibition catalogue,
In the Moing Company’s performances dance is something reduced to a single experience of sensuality and touch, intensified by repetition. The oranges falling from the sky are appetizing not only to our sense of touch. When a stretched out hand catches and squeezes them, penetrating the flesh through the peel and releasing the juice, the effect is quasi-pornographic. the viewer is afforded a strange catharsis: her tactile appetite has been gratified.
Tamar Ettun’s work has been shown in numerous exhibitions and performances including Sculpture Center, DUMBO Arts Festival, Diana Lowenstein Gallery, The Queens Museum, Indianapolis Museum of Art, The Jewish Museum, PERFORMA 13, PERFORMA 11, PERFORMA 09. Ettun served as the 2015/2016 Visiting Scholar at New York University, was in residency at Fountainhead in 2015, and was the recipient of the 2015 Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art. Ettun resides in New York City and is represented by the Fridman Gallery.
Negarra A. Kudumu
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