Recent works 2013 – 2016
Vertical Swamp / Raw Material HAMAKOM
Studio Yehudit Sasportas, Berlin Photo: Uwe Walter
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Raw Material Nr. 3, 2016 Mixed media, engraving and ink on MDF 300 X 200 cm Photo: Uwe Walter
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Raw Material Nr. 4, 2016 Mixed media, engraving and ink on MDF 300 X 200 cm Photo: Uwe Walter
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Raw Material Nr. 3 Photo: Uwe Walter
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Raw Material Nr. 3 + 4, 2016 Photo: Uwe Walter
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Vertical Swamp - Hamakom, Gallery Bo bjerggaard, Copenhagen Installation view Photo: Anders Sune Berg
Vertical Swamp nr. 6 (left), Vertical Swamp nr.4 (right), 2015 Photo: Anders Sune Berg
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Vertical Swamp, installation view, Gallery Eigen +Art, Berlin Photo: Uwe Walter
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Vertical Swamp nr. 3 (right), Gallery Eigen +Art, Berlin Photo: Uwe Walter
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Vertical swamp nr.5 (left), Tfilin (right), Gallery Eigen +Art, Berlin Photo: Uwe Walter
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Vertical Swamp, installation view, Gallery Eigen +Art, Berlin Photo: Uwe Walter
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Vertical Swamp, installation view Gallery Eigen +Art, Berlin Photo: Uwe Walter
Studio Yehudit Sasportas, Berlin Photo: Uwe Walter
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Vertical Swamp nr.4, 2015 Mixed media, engraving and ink on MDF 300 X 200 cm Photo: Uwe Walter
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Vertical Swamp nr. 6, 2015 Mixed media, engraving and ink on MDF 300 X 200 cm Photo: Uwe Walter
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Vertical Swamp nr. 2, 2015 Ink on MDF 300 X 200 cm Photo: Uwe Walter
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Tfilin, 2015 Black lacquered MDF 300 X 200 cm Photo: Uwe Walter
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Vertical swamp nr.5, 2015 Mixed media, engraving and ink on MDF 300 X 200 cm Photo: Uwe Walter
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Vertical Swamp Raw Material Eigen+Art Gallery, 10 November 2015 Berlin Yehudit Sasportas Yehudit Sasportas's solo exhibition, scheduled to open on 10th November, 2015, at the Eigen+Art Gallery in Berlin will show her new work, completed since the large Seven Winters solo exhibition, held at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, in 2013. This new works mirrors the important developments in the artist's work in recent years. Following her drawings, video films - partly based on manual drawings, sound and complex sculptural installations, she will presently exhibit a series of sculptural drawings of unusual size. These works mirror the complete infiltration of the drawing space by the sculptural medium, creating an enigmatic energy field full of vague tension and movement and functioning as a metaphor for an existential situation. For a long time, Sasportas was concerned with representing the seismographic code language which processed the sound recordings she had made at her family home in the course of many years. In time, these recordings were turned into a series of complex seismographic graphs which penetrated the texture and content of the drawing itself, in a manner which encoded, garbled and neutralized the source narrative. Anonymization of specific life materials by means of metaphysical coding systems has been at the core of Sasportas's work for years. In this exhibition, this language reaches a new sculptural pinnacle in that the seismograph lines and source information of the sound become sculptural etchings in the work body itself, like a life event irreversibly etched into consciousness, and as such – operating as a filter through which the individual experiences reality. One body of work deals in etchings and engravings in the material itself, while in another work – that of the vertical swamps - a foreign physical body penetrates the drawing space and is assimilated into it.
The two work groups are exhibited in combination with the The Magnetic Shaky Table video film. This is a video film which originated in nightly photographs of the magnetic table/model taken from the studio ceiling in the course of seven years. It is one of several unusual conceptual model series accompanying the artist's work. Sasportas's philosophical interest deals with a physical swamp located in north-west Germany; various materials were taken from there to the studio, where they were dried and altered, creating a conceptual still life which moved constantly for years, due to the magnets inserted by the artist. Sasportas's occupation with the swamp is one of the better-known aspects of her work in the past decade. The swamp embodies an unprocessed part of nature, partly rejected, which has not undergone cultural integration; on the other hand, by its very distinctiveness, it constitutes an entrance gate to the metaphysical dimension and is highly valuable to the daily physical field. The movement of these two spaces – the physical and the metaphysical – belongs to the core of Sasportas's work topics, as manifest in her well-known films GHARDI – local voices, The Light Workers, Vortex of Separation and The Moon. In The Magnetic Shaky Table (27 minutes) a simple still life scene represents a collective subconscious which is constantly on the move. The film shows the internal dynamics of the components: magnetic stones, dried tree parts from the swamp with inserted magnets, electrified branches with fine electric wires wrapped around them and felt ropes that function as drawing lines. Due to an active magnetic field, the model moved perpetually, halted by the artist only.
Sasportas filmed it for years and edited it into the finished work – the The Magnetic Shaky Table in 2013. The new exhibition will show part of the floor installation – the table's balancing apparatus – used by Sasportas for years at her Berlin studio. The film is accompanied by the original sound-track, written by Gamliel Sasportas, the artist's brother.
The vertical swamp's works in this exhibition presents unusual landscape drawings which function as maps of mental data outlines. Sasportas's mind landscapes deal with the meeting point between the personal space and the collective expanse. At this junction, the personal life data becomes an anonymous fragment of information which functions as part of a wider and more complex sphere. The body of work itself deals with the encounter and the passage from the physical, structural and material to the weightless and ethereal metaphysical dimension. Sasportas's preoccupation with the constant movement between different time zones and the penetration of one dimension into another belong to the inner core of her work. These movements expose subconscious materials which have not undergone full integration. They often serve as interface or meeting points between the invisible but perceived subconscious space and the physical sphere, which in turn echoes their effect. In the new works, different black geometrical parts represent metaphorically an alienation from the rest of the domestic life space or from the rest of the work itself. The idea of metaphysical components integrated in the physical dimension within the same body of work is an essential part in Sasportas's artistic attitude. Sasportas's body of work has been representing high tension and constant inner conflict for years. Like many of Sasportas's sculptural installations in recent years, the current exhibition presents the spectator with a species of a reflexive and conceptual mirror field which exposes the personal consciousness structure and its placement in the collective sphere.
German Swamp, German Forest The Israeli Yehudit Sasportas presents‚ "Vertical Swamp – Raw Material" at the gallery Eigen + Art Berlin By Ingeborg Ruthe This November exhibition is deep and leads the visitor to the forest and into the swamp; into this mythical landscape that is forbidden to humans and animals alike as it is far too dangerous with its treacherous, oxygen-free grounds of its wet habitat. Below its deceiving vegetable surface it is in constant movement swallowing everything and revealing its prey – if at all – only as enigmas. Maybe someday. ‘Vertical Swamp – Raw Material’ – what a dramatic title for an exhibition! To view, one must descend into what once was a cellar. Judy Lybke, the gallerist of Eigen + Art, had it converted into a white cube a couple of years ago. There, downstairs between the colossal artworks and the cables of a video installation one feels truly ‘swamped’. Already, the emotional metaphor of these ‘mental landscapes’ as Yehudit Sasportas calls her ink-works is overwhelming. A code-language The Israeli who is one of the gallery’s long standing artists is known for her developed, very individual (one could call it seismographic); code-language for objects and appearances of nature and day-to-day life, especially though for anonymized sounds and all that translated into images: large scale ink drawings with lineal and mostly white and vertically inserted lines and almost sculpturally cuttings and physical ‘burnings’ as if the long forgotten is remembered this way. She draws and paints on the computer but edits the motifs with traditional inks and pens by meticulously drawing onto the areas with a ruler and monochrome colors. Over days and weeks these bizarre forms appear millimeter by millimeter. This particular working process has reached a new level in Sasportas’ recent Berlin show: Looking at these panels for long enough one can experience the interaction of the various spheres: between the physical and metaphysical, the subjective and objective, between the conscious and the subconscious. Sasportas, a child of immigrated Sephardic Jews, is living in Tel Aviv and Berlin like a lot of young Israelis nowadays to whom Germany, Berlin is no longer a stage of fear and perpetrators and who see themselves as world citizens not as victims even though they will never forget their ancestors' sacrifices. In her art she does without ethnological recourses or direct reference to the holocaust or the actual conflicts and upheavals in her country. Instead she takes a strange – a German – landscape to be her theme. The forest, the swamp that swallows everything which after all could be read as none the less than an allegorical expression: Sometimes it is enormous and strange forests and mountains, black and white monster trees where white and grey color structures stream down on this dramatic scenery like rainfall. The storm swept trees become metaphors for age and injury but just as well as for perseverance and resilience. Forgetting and Remembering Forest and swamp are Saportas’ symbols for transition, an entrance into another metaphysical dimension. Everything in her enormous art works resembles the maelstrom of oblivion. To depict that these days, she uses moving images: a 27 minute video running in a loop. ‘The Magnetic Shaky Table’ is philosophical and poetical: from the swamp somewhere in Germany’s Northwest near the coast of the North Sea she collected and brought squishy peat, branches, twigs, leaves and
pebbles back to her studio. There, she dried the souvenirs and arranged everything as a kind of ‘still life’ in a tub with felt strips and cables. But nothing in there is still. It’s all slow-motion movement caused by the small magnets that were inserted into the natural materials. Sasportas wants the scene to be standing for the Collective Unconscious which is in constant motion. To realize it she took photographs from above over a very long period of time and then transformed them into this video. The sound artist Gamliel Sasportas, her brother, created the musical soundtrack running with it: murmuring, clicking, humming and rustling. Sasportas succeeds with austere poetry the Forgetting and Remembering without lecturing or being superficially political. In fact she rather wants to build visual bridges with her pictures to lift the raw material ‘that lies hidden within the soul of the observer’. And so she works like an archaeologist, uncovering deep, buried layers, bringing to light what was so far invisible. And that begins to communicate. MENTAL LANDSCAPES Yehudit Sasportas was born in 1969 in Ashdod. She lives and works in Tel Aviv and Berlin, descending from a family that emigrated from Morocco and is one of the best known artists of her generation from Israel. Symbols of transition are her main theme, forgetting and remembering. Ten years ago her huge metaphorical ink drawings were shown in the large exhibition ‘The New Hebrews’ at the Martin-GropiusBau. The artist is seeking Spiritual Expression in dramatic mental landscapes.
FĂ… NYHEDER, FERNISERINGER OG EVENTS HVER UGE I DIN MAILBOX. TILMELD DIG KOPENHAGENS UGENTLIGE NYHEDSMAIL
Introducing pockets of fresh air into a rigid structure Yehudit Sasportas Yehudi Sasportas was born in Israel in 1969. Today she lives and works in Berlin and Tel Aviv. She has represented Israel at the 52nd Venice Biennale and had major solo shows in museums in Israel and Germany. In January Kunstforeningen Gl. Strand showed many of her video works in the art cinema and Galleri Bo Bjerggaard shows her works until March 19th. Kopenhagen met her the day before the opening at Bo Bjerggaard. AF NINA POULSEN
Much of your work has to do with the ability to move between different levels of consciousness. Can you explain how you work with these different modes of being present or different layers of perception? For years I tried to concentrate my awareness on two different and important time zones the time before complete wakefulness in the morning and the time before falling asleep at night. In other words - the threshold before landing and the space before leaving the subconscious zone.
I was very inspired by philosophers and mystical scholars who spoke about how to develop the ability to stay longer in these transitional phases. The longer you stay, the better your ability to move your focus. It is not that you can really prolong the duration of time before you fall asleep or wake up, but the awareness in your system increases and affects the way you perceive your daily activity. For me the center of gravity became those two points in time. I trained myself to activate this bigger space that hosts the individual day, preventing the day from taking over. I call this space the background of reality. I realize that the longer you contemplate something visual without attempting to understand, respond or judge, instead just resting in this space, something happens. Although it feels like a very unproductive thing to do in the beginning, it is the most productive thing that I ever experienced. Central to your practice seem to be different ways of addressing the gap between participating in a situation and observing it. How do you work with this theme and how does it come to show in your work? For me the question is how to develop the ability of witnessing what is actually happening without being so consumed and overwhelmed by it. It started when I was a child, but when I was older it became a conscious tool to move your focus from the initial level of being in "the market place" to becoming aware that as human beings, we can operate in a conscious manner. When you practice it with drawing, for example, or with other creative tools, you can really shift the focus from the first perspective of being fully there, to the second or third level of consciousness which for me functioned as the witnessing space. My first tool was writing. I reflected on what was happening through writing; then it became kind of abstract drawing that mirrored the situation, while I was not consumed by its form as a very concrete description through language or words. This opened up a more abstract space that had its own independent energy. While this sounds abstract, it is very concrete and down to earth. We are just less used to be in a position of observation without identifying, and it is definitely something that is not so prevalent in our culture. It happened because I felt overwhelmed and a part of me couldnâ€™t handle the situation and shut down even more. Intuitively, I developed a technique of drawing that I kept on doing for hours, like a stream of consciousness. For example, when my parents were quarreling, I decided that I would not disconnect my hand from the paper and break the drawing line. The continuous line was for me a way to practice how to stay with what was happening while shifting the center of gravity from emotional involvement to something else. As a child, this always provided a tremendous relief. Over time, the energy of this abstract new space that opened up through the drawing became more dominant than the narrative. People could feel the quality of the transmission of this energetic drawing while viewing the real works or the films later on in the shows. This gave me enormous encouragement to continue; I understood that if you as a viewer of the art work also feel the quality of this unspoken space, apparently there is a mediated connection through the object of art that is able to convey a quality beyond a personal connection. Finally, one of the main ideas is developing the ability to move with this space so that the initial level of the narrative of the work does not impose itself on you. To this end, you have to move to the part in your brain that doesnâ€™t have any judgments. So I move to the space in me that is witnessing without any need or wish to control, change or explain. I have learned to rest in the witnessing. It is not that I can change what is happening but I can definitely change the way that I feel or how I interpret what is happening.
Yehudit Sasportas on Inspirations, Identity, and the German Swamp That Inspired Nearly a Decade of Her Art ARTSY F EB 2ND, 2016 11: 02 P M
Yehudit Sasportas The Light workers, 2010 Galleri Bo Bjerggaard
“For years, I focused my attention not on what people were saying, but rather on what they were not saying,” says Yehudit Sasportas. The Israeli artist, who splits her time between Tel Aviv and Berlin, recalls that from an early age, she was drawn to the communicative power of the image. “I think that there was definitely a certain stage when I became interested in the image or sign and one’s ability to express oneself as a human being in ways other than through the conventional tools of language,” she explains. And it was the image of a swamp in Germany—on the page of a periodical that caught her on a train ride many years ago—that has inspired some nine years of creativity, contemplation, and artistic output. While for many the idea of the swamp conjures visions of stagnant water and haunting forest devoid of human life, Sasportas reveals it to be a hotbed of energy and life. It has become a site of investigation, inquiry, and pilgrimage for the artist. She’s been visiting one particular site in Germany for years, taking pieces of the swamp with her each time, physically and metaphorically channeling its essence and spirit into her art. A selection of these works, as well as her dynamic film The Light workers (2010), features in the artist’s current exhibition “Vertical swamps,” at Galleri Bo Bjerggaard in Copenhagen. Each work—from explosive ink paintings and engravings to the enveloping film—communicates Sasportas’s deep connection to the swamp, and her ability as an artist to concentrate on a single
subject and present it to viewers in a new light, in original, deeply emotional, and dynamic images. She represents not only the visual environment of the swamp, but the sounds and physical materials that comprise it. On the occasion of “Vertical swamps,” we caught up with the artists to learn about her inspirations, her life between Berlin and Tel Aviv, and her time spent in the swamp.
Casey Lesser: Your works have been described as maps of mental data outlines and mind landscapes. What kinds of thoughts or emotions go into your work? Are there particular places, people or experiences that inspired these new works? Yehudit Sasportas: For years, I was dealing with autobiographical material and the core of my family—their mental spaces and their unspoken subconscious fields—as the philosophical and energetic base of my work. I was deeply interested in private and subjective information and how this information moves slowly into the public sphere through art—becoming a drawing, an object, a sound piece, or a sculpture—as well as by the very fact that it is located in a public space. I started communicating and transforming personal information into coded information that many people that I don’t know might have an interest in. For years I practiced the ability to contemplate or to observe—to witness without participating. For 18 years, I recorded my family without them even knowing that I was doing so. I was listening with the intention of creating a kind of parallel life to my own, thinking about the possibility of accessing information that was recorded in the past but is heard in the present moment. I focused my attention on going deeply into the recordings of my father, my sister, and my mom and the dialogue among them, and then introducing this information into the visual aspect of the seismograph provided by the computer. I then related to these seismographs and brought them into my own drawings. Being highly inspired by my family, I was always interested in how to take their story and work with this coded information so that it becomes relevant to many other people that don’t know them and my specific story. CL: Can you tell us about your process? YS: I have different ways of working. I do installations that consist of drawings, films, sculptures, and sound works. For each medium, I have different techniques. The drawings, for example, are divided into five or six different methods of work. Some of my drawings I do through intuition; some are from the way that I remember the subject that I am relating to; some drawings I do when I close my eyes and focus on the threshold of a moment and the way that the brain starts forgetting information and diving into a very different space. I’ve realized that it’s very interesting to look at the quality of the drawings while my brain starts forgetting information, and I move more into abstract spaces. Other drawings correspond with importing nature from outside to inside, like filming or recording nature and bringing these recordings into my studio and relating to this information through drawings. I am interested in activating different parts of the brain through drawing and then trying to see the different languages and codes of expressions. For my sculpture, I normally have three to six tables in my studio that are three-dimensional models representing philosophical principles. For example, The Magnetic Shaky Table is a table that I’ve had for the last seven years. On top of it I placed different objects that I brought from the swamp, one of my main areas of work in Germany. Over time, I added pieces of magnets into these elements, creating a magnetic field in which different objects were balanced by heavier, surrounding magnets. This created a kind of strange still-life that was constantly moving. I had a camera on my ceiling that filmed this table during the night only, and this strange movement never stopped. This inspired one
of my films, The Magnetic Shaky Table (2015), which was edited from seven years of night recordings. Then I have my films, which are very different because most of them consist of many, many drawings that I did manually, scanned then produced them with the aid of an animation program. It's very important to understand that the films consist of all these drawings and not a specific location. The Light workers is a film that consists of 158 drawings and the film itself embodies all of these drawings.
A: How do the new works in the show relate to the themes you have dealt with in past works, such as The Light workers? YS: The current show at Bo Bjerggaard in Denmark consists of two parts: the films and drawings and the three-dimensional drawings. All of them are connected to my themes; itâ€™s just another step further. The main idea of The Light workers film is to try to slow down time and to minimize the space in between the particles of this forest. The forest is very recognizable in the first part of the film, and slowly, slowly we start losing the concrete forest as it starts disappearing. Iâ€™m very much interested in how one dimension penetrates another, like one time zone penetrating another time zone. This is a strange kind of feeling, like something has just penetrated your reality and something starts slowing down; I try to visualize this through this forest, which functions as kind of a cover story, but I try to use the forest as an energetic location, as a landscape of life or as a platform for human activity. The slowed rhythm of the forestâ€™s breathing seems to synchronize increasingly with one's own breathing as an observer. The idea behind the current theme is stopping and putting a very strong focus on something, up to the point that the object that you are contemplating starts contemplating you, and after a while it starts sucking you in. I myself had this very experience over the last eight or nine years while I was staying at a very specific place in Germany, a swamp, a very bizarre place that I felt attracted to. I used to go there once a month, contemplating an area in this swamp. It didn't matter if it was winter, summer, autumn, or spring, I went for years to the same place. I think the experience that I had there, as well as being away from my culture, allowed me to dive into dimensions that I don't normally encounter when I'm so consumed by my normal life activities, as I am in Tel Aviv. I dealt with the same theme in the very early sculptures I created in my early 20s. I was contemplating objects in the domestic environment and wondered how you can start meditating with objects and transforming the concrete space of the object, the solidity of the object, into something else, just by putting a very strong focus on it. So The Light workers film is a continuation of my interest in dismantling structure and narrative around a concrete form or object.
A: You split your time between Berlin and Tel Aviv. How do these differing environments affect your art? YS: This is kind of the story of my life: trying to be in two different places at the same time. There is always one empty space, and one space where you are. I was connected to two different places but actually staying only at one place, and relating and corresponding with the other place simultaneously. I can say that these two very, very different environments had a huge impact on my work in a very, very positive way. Living many years in a place that is not your natural cultureâ€”not your mother tongue, not your climate, among many different things that don't feel naturalâ€”contributes to this quality of alienation that I have become more and more fascinated by. I was interested in how to find yourself in a place where you feel like a stranger and how to develop a deeper sensitivity through that experience. For example, when you read in your own language you're immediately sucked into the content because you are familiar with the words, but when it is another language you become much more sensitive to details. Language is just one example, but this can apply to many different areas of culture. This is one of the biggest gifts that you can have as an artist - the ability to dive into areas that almost make you feel alienated from yourself. I think itâ€™s one of the most important issues to de-center your space, your place, to move to a perspective that is a bit different from the one that you're used to, to feel yourself with different habits and to feel the vulnerability that your system goes through when you don't feel at home.
L: The new show is titled “Vertical Swamps” and the swamp is a recurring element in your works. Why do you choose to portray the swamp? YS: The first encounter that I had with swamps was through Martin Heidegger’s writing, and the way that he described these bizarre areas—clearings, swamps—that exist outside of our normal human activity in big cities or in nature. But it's more than that: there are certain areas where we don't want to be; they give us an uncomfortable feeling; they are menacing. My attraction began from a philosophical aspect and later on it was a very simple image of an interesting location in Germany that attracted my attention due to a very disturbing ecological problem that was taking place there; they were trying to dry this place out but it refused to dry. It is standing water, and it seems like a dead place, but actually it's the most alive place that I have ever experienced because many things are happening there in a different way than we are used to. It’s a different way of producing life—not the conventional, classical, positive form but nevertheless, not so different. I was interested in the swamp as something that is excluded from the whole; it feels like an unintegrated part of culture that is being rejected. The swamp for me is just a beautiful metaphor for things that exist in our subconscious and constantly ask to be integrated and participate in our reality. Usually it appears as an uncomfortable experience that creates tension and evokes resistance or denial and I was attracted to this. The swamp is one of the most beautiful places that I have visited. I'm interested not in the visual aspects of the swamp, but in the energy of the place.
This is a strong energy, energy of a different time that exists in the present moment, so I wanted to go to this area and stay there for a while, and then to bring some philosophical, conceptual, or even physical materials into my studio and start analyzing, working. So the swamp has had a huge role in my work metaphorically, philosophically, conceptually, emotionally and so on. —Casey Lesser
“Vertical swamps” is on view at Galleri Bo Bjerggaard, Copenhagen, Jan. 21– Mar, 19, 2016.
Yehudit Sasportas Vertical Swamps HAMAKOM Yehudit-Sasportas-exhibition-catalogue
Interview between Peter Michael Hornung and Yehudit Sasportas Peter Michael Hornung: Yehudit Sasportas, I read in one of the texts about you that as a child you already did drawings or illustrations of certain imaginary conditions â€“ existential conditions, which is not easy at all to imagine visually especially not for a child. Is that correct? And do you think that this early and unusual undertaking has been of importance to you later as an artist?
Yehudit Sasportas: Yes, I think that the fact that I started using the language of drawing since I was very young might be interpreted as a way of relating to existential conditions. But I perceive it a bit differently. For me it was a very basic instrument of expression, holding a pencil, taking a piece of paper and trying to relate to my surroundings through writing or drawing. From a very young age I was very interested in this gap between the intensity that we are surrounded by and the ability of our system to cope, to digest or to relate to this intensity. I think that I was dealing with those gaps intuitively, that I felt more than I could express. I think that the language of drawing for me was a wonderful instrument to deal with this gap.
When I look at young children today, I can recognize this hypersensitivity. This is not necessarily a traumatic experience; it can also be just differences in frequencies that differÂ ent human beings have. I think that the medium of drawing, like trying to write down daily occurences, as in your diary as a child, and later on trying to translate this text into another visual coded language, was part of my very natural way of perceiving life.
The first process started as many diaries and books. I was just writing basically about all that was happening in my family at that time. When one of my sisters discovered all my personal books and started reading them to her friends, I decided that it was better to develop another hidden language, so I could actually write the same information, just in a different visual code. That is how those bizarre seismographs started.
Later when I was 15–16 years old, I became interested in a very exceptional act. The fact that my younger brother was a musician was very helpful because we decided to develop a system of microphones, and I was actually recording my family during 18 years without them knowing that I was doing so. I was putting different microphones in all the rooms, and every two weeks I collected these microphones and emptied the systems into the comput er. Basically I have many years of recording that consists of the basic life information that took place in the home of my parents, as the recording was actually covering everything. It could be my father taking a shower or my mother arguing with someone, or just a basic phone call or simple dialogue and so on. It moves from very simple and banal conversa tions to more interesting things that for me was very intense to encounter for the first time. The encounter was with a significant gap of time because I could never listen to the re cording online.
Over time this became a kind of theme or topic, as I became more and more interested in this parallel life system. It was happening in one place, as my machine was recording the information that was connected to very important people in my life like my family. But on the other hand I lived in another place. It all started when I was still at home, and it continued when I left home and started on my own studying in another city. I very much like this idea that I started developing this kind of parallel life system, which over time became a very significant and important theme in my work: parallel rooms, parallel paths and different dimensions that are working simultaneously. They are all like different layers of one reality. I was also very young when I began drawing those very intense seismographs, which for me basically functioned as emotional diagrams. They were translating for me the emotional information that I was contemplating or trying to digest, and therefore trying later on to report. This was maybe one of the intuitive needs or ideas that I had at that time, but it developed of course the more mature and conscious I became. The whole act itself starts developing and adding more and more layers to this. PM: I am puzzled – and impressed – by your use of the colours, black and white. With only these two contrasting colors you seem able to construct a whole world of imaginary landscapes, very great landscapes. What is the reason for this limitation, which of course is not an artistic limitation?
YS: Of course that has nothing to do with any artistic limitation. The main idea of the black and white is for me that this is the language of drawing and writing. I think the black and white is actually one line of my work which is basically the drawings. They are parallel to the
drawings I do in my films, and apart from that I make sculptures and installations, so my work consists of four different parts. When I draw, the tool functions as an x-ray scan that is supposed to deal with the very basic information and with the structure of things, mainly the hidden structure of things. So the black and white for me always feels like the most basic and the simplest, most direct and clean way to represent this information. I think that my drawing deals a lot with interiors, that is with internal information and not with the external. The direction of the drawings is from outside to inside, and this is a very specific way of relating to the words; for me most of them function like mental maps, like drawings that relate to the human psyche, drawings that express different departments in our brain like the subconscious department, the mental one, the intellectual, the emotional, all these areas that you normally sense, but you do not actually visually see them. So in this regard it has a lot to do with senses and not with perceptions, and that is why the black and white is pretty much like when you go to a scan where you donâ€™t have colors or when you go to an x-ray, you just have the basic monotone tones. But on the other hand it feels like an immensely rich language. So this is one aspect of the more introvert and interior of the human psyche and therefore I only need the basic language of drawing: black and white. The second reason, in a wider context, is connected to me living and working in Berlin for the last ten years, originally coming from Tel Aviv where light is a topic, we constantly deal with too much light there. The stark contrast of the lack of light in Berlin became a big topic in my work. The long winters when itâ€™s dark until 8:30 in the morning. The whole of human activity starts when itâ€™s totally dark and the darkening starts about 3:30 p.m. I can imagine that for you coming from Copenhagen, this feels pretty natural during the winter time but you need to understand that for me, it was like absolutely, wow. That is pretty much based on the energetic understanding of life.
I think that the fact that I suffered from a severe lack of light in Berlin took me much more into this introvert way of looking and experiencing things. It had a huge impact on my work, especially my films which consist of hundreds of drawings. Most of my films are based on drawings. Light Workers, the film that I will show in the gallery, is based on 158 original drawings that were made in a quite remarkable size, up to three meters high. None of them exist now because they are buried into the body of the film itself. This is part of the idea that the manual language of the drawing is within the digital body of the film. So this is part of the black and white, like a mental frequency, a psychic frequency that gives us direct access to what we sense deeply inside our brain or the different departments of feelings that human beings have.
PM: What does the monumental size of your black and white-drawings mean to you? They have the size of big paintings. But technically they are not paintings. They are drawings. Why do you choose them to be that big? YS: I think that it is pretty much connected to the way that I relate to space and sculpture, as I am a sculptor first of all; secondly I am a draughtsman and a filmmaker. My whole route as an artist started in sculpture, and sculpture and space are a very important starting point. For years I was very interested in experiences, trying to understand my own life and trying to dismantle things that are already perceived as a final story or the final object. This object might be your identity or the story about yourself as an artist. I have this very obsessive need to understand, to look for the meaning. I have always been interested in this process. When I started dismantling something in order to understand it, I was amazed that the sum of all the particles was bigger than the thing that I thought was there from the beginning. So this experience of dealing with a certain size or a certain scale and then later on when you are finished you immediately feel - oh my God - when I open this box, the scale is always much bigger than I originally thought. This is one thing and the second thing is, as you said very precisely, these are not really paintings. These are drawings. These are actually mental maps and if you look carefully you see that they consist of different small drawings that are coming together creating a kind of lace or structure that is full of holes. Each structure, each detail is like a whole. But you have to understand, I never stayed in the first level of the narrative, Iâ€™m not interested in the autobiographical information. For me this is just a starting point but it always goes to the second and to the third levels. You start with a personal experience and this personal experience always goes with the process of making things anonymous. The journey from the personal to the public has something to do with scale. The traces of this journey become the object in the end. It is always important to create work that will change the original perspective or the original understanding that I had regarding the same information. I did a lot with changing perspectives. Looking at the same thing from different directions, levels and layers and from a physical and metaphysical dimension. It is like locating yourself in different perspectives, it somehow enlarges the space. It might sound like a very abstract answer but somehow I know, especially when I look at the new work for the show, it has a lot to do with trying to draw an endless mental and psychic map. Just by trying to understand it, it becomes a thing in itself which is always bigger than what you thought it was at first. The second very simple answer concerns the pure interest in creating something, which is bigger than yourself. It has nothing to do with the physical scale; it is more about trying to move to the second perspective, which means leaving the first. The first perspective is the first cycle, itâ€™s always about you, yourself, your story, your narrative. The second is a space which is a bit bigger than yourself, and as an artist I always try to move the centre of gravity from the first space to the second space, which means trying to leave the first level of the story and to contemplate from a non-personal space to your own personal space. Over time this became a very, very important subject in my work, mainly in my films, that the flashlight or the source of light always comes from outside, from a non-personal space, pointing out to the place where everything is happening. In the case of the last show I had at The National Israeli Museum, there were really large scale sculptures, because it was very important for me to surround myself with big black walls for example that created a very strange feeling in the space. They were so large they seemed like part of the museum itself. Ideally the first impact is from a distance so you see the work as a spectacular thing in the space, like a sculpture that you cannot ignore. When you come closer you see how intricate the details are on the drawings. So Iâ€™m working with two things, the information that will be perceived from a distance and then when you come closer, it is not that you are losing something, you come closer and you have another,
more intimate experience, it is like two different experiences. It’s about presence, objects in a space and what is happening to the space itself on different levels. PM: A conflict seems to go on in your work. What’s on the top or in the upper half could be fighting against what is shown underneath. Of course it’s a silent fight. It’s not a conflict either between different colouristic solutions. It seems to be a conflict between two different interpretations of nature, and the differences seem to grow slowly into one another. YS: Another interesting question about the energy which has been the core of my work for years between two parts which are almost the same size, like 50 percent is this information and 50 percent is another information and they coexist within this strong tension. A chronic tension of life that you hold in your body. This has always been there in my life, I have learned to deal with and explore it, there is always a message. For years I lived with a feeling that my vessel was too strong for the amount of energy that was running through it. Another reason is the things that are not fully integrated. I have always been interested in the relation between the conscious part of our body and our subconscious, feelings that are released while the body is in less control. This tension is very strong in my work and I am still fascinated by perceptions that you can sense and not really see. I have worked with this idea for the last 28 years, since my first sculptures. These could be events that happened in your past and maybe overwhelmed you. These events remained part of your system, but the rest of your system continued to grow and develop. I was interested in these unintegrated particles, unintegrated areas that have somehow stayed in the human psyche from an early age. Some of it stays stuck in time. For years I was interested in the different techniques that we as human beings use to cope with those things. I always said to my students, these are survival strategies that we have as humans. What I find in those techniques are incredible sources of intelligence, very creative and original ones. It’s not necessarily negative, it can have different reasons because humans can have a different quality inside. A lot of my films mainly deal with this topic. The bubbles in the film, Light Workers, are kind of this bubble. The flashlight tries to point at something that was not integrated and this part which is not fully integrated, is constantly trying to release itself and be integrated in order to release energy. It is about evolution in the end, it is about movement. By slowing down the time, we have more access to those particles, to those unintegrated parts. Only when I increase the resolution of the details, like in the drawings and in the films and everything is slower, you can as a viewer notice this movement. When everything is slowing down you suddenly see the space between the particles of the matrix itself, for example of this forest. Then you have access to this area and to this bubble of light, which is the representation of one of the unintegrated particles that are moving somewhere in this forest. That is basically a metaphor of a life activity zone. There is an urge to move, as if there is a movement within yourself which is bigger than your ability to control it. This movement is the power that takes me to the studio every day, it’s not that I am a victim of this, not at all. I choose this, I move with this, I work with this conflict, I work with this chronic tension which you might interpret on a personal level and later, on a collective level and with different types of conflict and tension. I am fascinated by this energy that wants to release itself, which exists within something. The more you develop the ability to look at things and to stay with them for hours, the more you become sensitive to this energy that objects are carrying within themselves – within their structure. PM: I have read that there are no forests growing in your country, Israel. But there must be nowadays after all the international plantation-projects?! But the trees in your works are not drawn from any particular forest, I guess. And the swamp landscapes are not citations from any particular swamp, from some known part of the world. Am I right to assume that the complex nature shown in your drawings does not consist of concise observations which have been assembled or put together. It’s an interpretation of a certain natural condition – or a kind of threat?
Of course I am not sitting in front of a particular forest. I’m interested in the idea of the forest and of trees or swamps - it’s basically about a certain type of nature, which exists more in the marginal areas of our culture, we know about it but we are not necessarily there. This is the starting point. I have stayed a lot in nature, eight months here, seven months there, under quite extreme situations. In Switzerland, contemplating trees, recording sounds from 150 trees in the black forest with a very fine system of microphones. I was also working and relating to a specific swamp in Germany. But the exact location of the swamp is unimportant. It is more the idea that you can recognize a forest, a clearing or a tree, as the organic meridian of the matrix. The forest functions as a perfect tool for me, which can represent conscious and subconscious. The upper part of the tree is what you see from the earth up. But there are always extreme veins, like a very complex system of roots that you don’t see. For years I was relating to this system of roots under the earth which we don’t see. This is why I chose the forest as a matrix. If there would be another organic element on the planet that could give me this same solution I would use that. The swamp is more about areas that are open and function like a hole. The swamp and the clearing have beautiful direct access through those subconscious fields. You could recognize trees in the drawings which come from the desert in Israel, just beside the trees which grow in very cold places. The idea is more philosophical, the empty territory where the tremendous activity of life is taking place but without human beings. Nature without human beings is an empty space. This is the background of reality for me, it is the platform where life takes place. The urban part where human beings are living is another part, which functions as a metaphor to architecture. For me it is more a mental architecture, the inner architecture that we have as human beings. The complex nature that you can see in the drawings is definitely not drawn from a specific observation. It might be an interpretation of a certain natural condition and it might as well be a reflection. I use it as a perfect platform to show the structure of projections that we place on those things. The main breakthrough in my work came through the physical experiences I had in the places I have spent time in. The idea is more conceptual than romantic. PM: Yehudit Sasportas, I thank you for the interview!
Yehudit Sasportas - CV Born in 1969 in Ashdod, Israel Since 1993 she teaches at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel Since 2004 Lives and works in Berlin and Tel Aviv Education 1997-99
M.F.A., Fine Art Department, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem in collaboration with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Academy of Art and Science, Cooper Union Academy of Art, New York, USA
B.F.A., Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel
College for Visual Art, Beersheva, Israel
Fellowships and prizes 2009 2003-2005 2004 2003 2001 1999 1994-1998
The Israeli Ministry of Culture award, Israel The chosen Artist of the Israel Cultural Excellence Foundation (I Excellence), Israel International studioprogram of Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany Artist-in-residence, Binz Foundation, Nairs, Switzerland Arthur Goldreich Foundation, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel The Israeli Art Prize, Nathan Gottesdiener Foundation, Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel Israel-America Fund for Culture, Helena Rubinstein Award for Sculpture Gotsy Reder Prize for Sculpture, Israel 1997 Ingeborg Bachmann Scholarship, established by Anselm Kiefer, Wolf Foundation, Herzliya, Israel Kadishman Prize for Sculpture, America-Israel Cultural Foundation, Israel Young Artist Award, Israeli Ministry of Culture and Education, Israel Robert Steinmann Prize for Sculpture, Herzliya Museum of Art, Herzliya, Israel Ehud Elhanani Prize, Fine Art Department, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel
Solo exhibitions 2016 2016 2015 2013 2011 2010 2009 2008
Vertical Swamps HAMAKOM, Galleri Bo Bjerggaard, Copenhagen, Denmark HAMAKOM / FILMS 2008 – 2015, GL STRAND Kunsthalle, Copenhagen, Denmark Vertical Swamp Raw Material, Gallery EIGEN & Art Berlin, Germany Seven Winters, Solo show, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel Films, Gallery Eigen + Art Leipzig, Germany HASIPUR – The Story, Herbert Gerisch Stiftung, Neuemunster, Germany Cosmic Rifts, Sommer Contemporary Art Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel The Clearing of the Unseen, DA2 Domus Atrium, Salamanca, Spain The Laboratory, Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany Artist Statement, Gallery EIGEN + ART, frieze art fair, London, UK
2007 2006 2005 2004
2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1996 1995 1994
The Guardians of the Threshold, 52. Venice Biennale, Think with the Senses – Feel with the Mind. Art in the present Tense, Israeli Pavilion, Venice, Italy The Guardian of the Pearl’ Shadow, Sint-Lukas Gallery Brussels, Brussels, Belgium The Cave Light, Leonhardi Museum, Dresden, Germany The Pomegranate Orchard, Gallery EIGEN + ART, Berlin, Germany Locher, Muellerhaus, Literatur und Sprache, Lenzburg, Switzerland The Guardian of the Pearl’s Shadow 1, Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel The Guardian of the Pearl’s Shadow 2, Tilton Gallery, Los Angeles, USA The Swamp and the Magnetic Ants, Galerie EIGEN + ART, Leipzig, Germany By the River, Matrix 200, the Berkley Museum Of Art, San Francisco, USA The Archive, Artist`s Statement, Galerie EIGEN + ART, Art Cologne, Cologne, Germany How did it ever come so far..., Galerie EIGEN + ART, Berlin, Germany The Carpenter and the Seamstress II, Deitch Projects, New York, USA The Carpenter and the Seamstress, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel PVC 1999, Noga Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel Trash-can Scale. Work 1995-96, Janco Dada Museum, Ein Hod, Israel Mapping, Office in Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel Drawings, Jerusalem Artists’ House, Jerusalem, Israel
Selected group exhibitions 2016 2016 2015 2015 2015 2014 2014 2014 2014 2013
22 internationale zeichnerinnen und zeichner, kunstverein eislingen, Germany Once in a Lifetime, the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, Holland Harmony and Transition, Chinese Landscape in Contemporary art, Martha Herford Museum, Herford, Germany Walk The Line, New Paths in Drawing, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany Dark Side Of…, TS ART Projects, Berlin, Germany Shades of Black and White, Gallery Bo Bjerggaard, Copenhagen, Denmark PAPERWORLDS, Me Collectors Room Berlin / Stiftung Olbricht, Berlin, Germany Confrontation, Galerie Alain Le Gaillard, French Neighbors, Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Istanbul, Turkey Caution! Things may appear different than they are, APT institute, Nuremberg, Germany On Paper, Galerie EIGEN+ART Berlin, Germany Material Spiritual World, Deweer Gallery, Brussels, Belgium Unnatural, the BASS museum, Miami, USA Inner Motion , Art Museum Magdeburg, Germany Kalte Rinden (landscape), City Gallery, Kiel, Germany Kunst Museum Wolfsburg, for contemporary art, Wolfsburg, Germany A rock and a hard place , The 3rd Thessaloniki Biennale, Greece Wall Work, Yerba Buena Center for The Arts, San Francisco, USA Artist Statment, Galerie Eigen And Art, Frieze Art Fair, London, UK Site of Silence, Munster, Germany Sommer bei EIGEN + ART, Galerie EIGEN + ART Berlin, Germany Depletio,: Works from the Doron Sebbag Art Collection ORS Ltd., Tel-Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel Real Time: Art in Israel 1998-2008, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel Eventually we’ll Die, Young Art in Israel of the Nineties, Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Herzliya, Israel Gegen den Strich, Bielefelder kunstverein, Germany
Access to Israel & II, Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt/Main, Germany Back to Black, Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover, Germany Dialogues Méditerranéens à Saint-Tropez, France Ornament, S.M.A.K., Gent, Belgium Digital Landscapes, The Genia Schreiber Universitiy Art gallery, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel Neue Heimat, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, Germany Gegen den Strich, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany Ausgezeichnet!, Kunstverein Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany Raft of the Medusa, National Museum Warschau & Krakow, Poland All the best. The Deutsche Bank Collection and Zaha Hadid, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore Far and away: The Fantasy of Japan in Contemporary Israeli Art, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel Mini Israel: 70 Models, 45 Artists, One Space, the Israel Museum of Art, Jerusalem, Israel The Phoenix Collection, Ashdod Museum, Ashdod, Israel Dreaming Art dreaming reality, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel 25 Jahre Sammlung Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Germany Temporary Import, Art Forum Berlin, Berlin, Germany Portrait, Galerie EIGEN + ART, Berlin, Germany Die Neuen Hebräer - 100 Jahre Kunst in Israel, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany Homage to Yona Fischer, Bezalel gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel Drawing today, CAC Màlaga, Spain A European Portrait #2, Rohkunstbau, Groß Leuthen, Germany Sommer Show, Lehmann Maupin, New York, USA Romantica, Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel Point of View, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel Drawings,Binz 39, Nairs, Engiadina Bassa, Switzerland Sommer bei EIGEN + ART, Galerie EIGEN + ART, Berlin, Germany Chilufim, Kunstmuseum Bonn; Kaiser Wilhelm Museum Krefeld; Museum Am Ostwall, Dortmund, Germany Sommer Contemporary Art at Kilchmann Plus, Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich, Switzerland Chopsticks, Hamidrasha Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel Imagine, Umm el-Fahem Art Gallery, Umm el-Fahem, Israel Chilufim, Herzliya Museum of Art, Herzliya; The Israel Museum of Art, Jerusalem, Israel Personal Plans, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, Switzerland Kill me if you can, The Kalisher Art Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel Imagine, Um el Fachem Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel Recent Acquisitions, the Uzi Zucker Fund for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel Sommer bei EIGEN + ART, Galerie EIGEN + ART, Leipzig, Germany Sadie Coles Gallery HQ, London, UK Works on Paper, Kerlin Gallery, Dublin, Ireland Liste 2001, Basel, Switzerland Total Object Complete with Missing Parts, Tramway, Glasgow, Scotland Gallery Barbara Davis, Houston, USA Las pasiones, Bienal de Valencia, Valencia, Spain Walkabout, the Ramat Gan Museum, Ramat Gan, Israel; Galerie Kampnagel, Hambur, Germany Ladies and Gentleman, Contemporary Israeli Art, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel Platforma, Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel
Liste, the Young Art Fair, Basel, Switzerland The passion and The Wave, 6th International Istanbul Biennale, Istanbul, Turkey Young International Art, Galerie EIGEN + ART, Berlin, Germany Art Focus, Sultan’s Pool, Jerusalem, Israel Bad kids, good kids, The Israel Museum of Art, Jerusalem, Israel The Biennial of the Mediterranean, Rome, Italy Four Israeli Women Artists, Art Triennale, New Delhi, India Women Artists in Israel, Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa, Israel 90 Years of Israeli Art - Works of the Joseph Hachmi-Israel Phoenix Collection, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel 12 x 12, The Bezalel Graduant Program of Young Artists, The Maurice Louis Gallery, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel Bamot. The building, destruction and restoration of high places. Israel `48 - `98", Jewish Museum, Vienna, Austria Biennale of the Mediterranean, Turin, Italy Home, Anadiel Gallery, New Gate, Jerusalem, Israel Balanced, The Israeli Painters and Sculptors Foundation, Tel Aviv, Israel Yehudit Sasportas and Smadar Eliassaf – Drawings, Noga Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel L.A. Biennial Invitational, Posner Art Gallery, Santa Monica, California, USA Eight Artists, America-Israel Cultural Foundation, Tally Hall, New York, USA Autumn Salon, Abandoned House Exhibition, Tel Aviv, Israel Drawing No. 1, Gimel Gallery, Jerusalem, Israel Michael Kasos, Yehudit Sasportas, Daphna Ron, The Tel Aviv Artists Studio, Tel Aviv, Israel Home Works, Herzliya Museum of Art, Herzliya; Art Gallery, University of Haifa, Haifa; Yavneh Art Workshop, Yavneh; Arad Museum, Arad, Israel Seperate World, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel Back, Gimel Gallery, Jerusalem, Israel Labyrinth, Pat Studio, Jerusalem, Israel