MaGifa (meaning pandemic in Hebrew) reveals new works created by the artist during the first lockdown in Tel Aviv, Israel.
This body of work consists of delicate pencil and pen drawings depicting imaginary spaces inspired by the artist’s archive of reference material. The drawings have been animated to include subtle movements and shapes, referencing the games played and music listened to by the artist and her son as they passed time indoors.
“As happened to many people, all of my projects were cancelled or postponed to an unknown date when the corona crisis began in early 2020. My everyday life was reduced to the most basic things: cooking, a walk in our neighbourhood garden, and playing with Aviv, my 18 month-old son. We built constructions in Duplo and Magnets, we drew animals and cars and we listened to children’s Mexican songs from the 60s in a loop (an attempt to connect Aviv to his Mexican roots). It felt like the stasis of an ‘ongoing-present’. On the one hand the news gave a sense of the apocalypse, but on the other hand, every day seemed the same as the previous one.
During this ‘ongoing-present’ I began to draw plants, using colouring pencils and pens. The drawings depicted empty places where the vegetation grew without anyone trimming it. My games with Aviv gradually entered the drawings: animals, Mexican songs and small constructions. The elements became basic: plants, fire, water, wind, animals.
At a certain stage I felt a need to animate these drawings – they felt too silent. I wanted them to get out of their static state on the paper; I had to animate them with a beat. I added a light movement to each of them, resembling the city where we live, which found itself abandoned but still had remains of life, play and colour. I transformed them into GIFs.
I scanned the drawings, and by making erasures and adding digital lines, I created a new space that focused on the ‘beat’. Maybe this beat is our nonlinear ongoing-present, which was created with the lockdowns. At first sight the works might look like a static landscape, but pausing on them you notice a movement that compels your attention. On the screen, the GIF transfers a returning movement, like a thought or a sentence from a song that repeats itself and gets stuck in your mouth. I wanted the works to hum like we hummed the Mexican songs all day.”
Words by Hili Greenfeld
See here for a statement from ONCA regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Imagined spaces, inspired by the artist’s reference material of photographs of abandoned shrines, fountains and temples, have been depicted in Hili’s signature style and then animated to include subtle movements and shapes, further highlighting the eerie calm of the period when time stood still and every day felt like a neverending repeat of the previous one.
Personal motifs referencing the games played by the artist and her son during this time, as well as the Mexican music of the artist’s son’s heritage, appear in the drawings, alluding to rhythms and cycles often unnoticed in nature during the normal pace of everyday life. At first glance the empty spaces portrayed seem lifeless, but on closer inspection, when the invitation to slow down and pay attention is accepted, plants grow and animals return to spaces that human activity had previously pushed them out of.
The drawings’ movements catch your eye: you imagine these spaces are static, empty, lifeless, but then you realise the movements are in their own way stuck – stuck on repeat in an endless loop of sameness or ‘ongoing-present’ as the artist puts it.
During a time when movement outside the home was restricted to a very small area, the only way to connect with other people or places was online in virtual spaces. And the only way to experience Hili’s relics, although they originate from a physical form, is through this same virtual space. They are testament to another person’s experience of isolation – which is shared with others they may never meet, in unknown locations, in the hope of connecting in some small way to a shared humanity.
During the lockdown countless artists around the world had to quickly adapt their practices to work with what they had to hand and within the limitations of these new restrictions. Hili’s work perfectly captures this experience of ‘going back to basics’ and looking at what has been in front of you all along with fresh eyes. Despite the monotony of daily routines and the open-ended-ness of the infringements, there is a lot to be said for the opportunity this presented to reconnect with ourselves and our surroundings through stripping back everything else that normally gets in the way.
Words by Lydia Heath, Gallery Manager
About The Artist
Hili Greenfeld’s art connects fragments of private memory to cultural narratives in shrine-like installations. These installations consist of imitations of relics – objects that testify both to our desire to capture time through the objects that persist through it, and our inability to finally make peace with the change and decay that time brings. She calls these installations ‘environments’ because they combine manipulated ready-mades, sculptures and paintings, creating a complex, integrated space. Though memories are elusive and private rather than concrete and public, these scenes reify personal memories and thus enable them to be shared.
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Posted on January 7, 2021
Categories: Artist Development, Arts, Health & Wellbeing, Decolonising Art & Culture
Tags: 2021, Coronavirus, Hili Greenfeld, International Artists, Lockdown Art, MaGifa, Online Exhibitions