Tag Interdisciplinary art practice

Art project SEEDS OF BLISS / بذر / גרעינים is defying political, religious and geographical borders in the Middle East

Photo: Shula Covo, all rights reserved

The intention of SEEDS OF BLISS   / بذر  /   גרעינים is to bring people in the Middle East together to chew a total of ten tons of sunflower seeds in neighbouring cities. This intercultural cooperation project by interdisciplinary artist Noam Edry, in collaboration with the Haifa Museum and Artis Contemporary, is not about nationality, politics, religion or any other differentiating factor; all participants are individuals living in a Middle Eastern city and they come together with their neighbours to share the pleasure of a tradition deeply rooted in their part of the world. Jordanians from Aqaba and Israelis from Eilat live within 6 km from each other with an equal distance of less than 1 km to the Red Sea. Now we have entered August, which is when the sunflower seeds are ready for harvest and the sunflower seed donations for SEEDS OF BLISS   / بذر  /   גרעינים have reached a total of 3 tons. The artist, who is travelling around Israel for meetings with the country’s seeding companies, is met with great enthusiasm and it should not be long until the ten tons have been raised.

In September, ten people from Eilat will cross the border and get together with their neighbors in Aqaba to chew, spit, drink coffee and socialize for five days at Al-Fardos Café.  Later on, the people from Aqaba will cross the border over to Eilat and continue the seed-shelling with their new friends. To get the Israeli State to approve the Jordanian’s VISA applications is a complicated procedure, but Noam Edry is working on the bureaucracy together with trusted volunteers. Additional neighboring cities to take part in SEEDS OF BLISS   / بذر  /   גרעינים are Nablus-Haifa and Jenin-Afula. All stages of the project are being documented and the 5-day performances will be filmed and publicized in the press in real-time. Though in its early stages, SEEDS OF BLISS   / بذر  /   גרעינים has already received huge TV and press coverage in Israel and is stirring quite an interest worldwide. After the completion of the project, the artist hopes to exhibit the remnants of ten tons of sunflower seeds and the documentation in London, as a humorous Middle-Eastern response to Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds. “The Chinese are expert craftsmen. Our expertise is to chew and spit” she explains.

Photo: Shula Covo, all rights reserved

Noam Edry describes her recent visit to Aqaba in her own words:

“I came with my photographer and the people in Aqaba adopted us immediately. Hasan, the owner of Al-Fardos café, hosted us and treated me like a real friend. Hasan introduced me to his friend Nabih, the manager of the mosque, and single-handedly they put together a team of ten very trustworthy and responsible Jordanians, who understand the nature of this project.”

Every evening the artist got together with Hasan and people from all around Aqaba to enjoy the friendly atmosphere at Hasan’s café, where the conversations flowed naturally accompanied by sunflower seeds, shish and coffee. Although the city has plenty of entertainment to offer a visitor, it was nothing that could beat the contentment of simply chilling out, talking about life and discussing the beautiful possibilities of SEEDS OF BLISS   / بذر  /   גרעינים. Throughout the evenings people discreetly joined the group with a passport in their hand and expressed their wish to participate in the project, which put the artist in a very humbling position.

Noam Edry has been studying Arabic in order to better communicate with her volunteers. Thanks to the abounding conversations that have taken place during the initial stages of the project, all happening in a sunflower seed chewing spirit, the nature of SEEDS OF BLISS   / بذر  /   גרעינים is becoming increasingly organic and collaborative. The starting event will take place on 23 August 2012 in the artist’s birthplace of Kibbutz Ramat Yohanan, a small communal settlement in the North of Israel, with the participation of the neighboring Arab-Bedouin villages of Ras Ali and Khawaled. Together they will chew the first few kilos of sunflower seeds.

______________________________________________

[More on Noam Edry]

______________________________________________

Interview Series 2011

Part 1 – A constant battle for the freedom of speech in a web of taboos and envy

Part 2 – From sharp-edged politics to an S&M club and back again

Part 3 – “I Am the Terrorist”

Feature on Childhood

Born a War Painter

Reviews

Museum of Art, Ein Harod, Israel, 2012

Goldsmiths MFA 2011

 

Noam Edry was born in 1982 in Israel in a communal settlement and raised in London. Her work explores questions of identity, mechanisms of power and domination and their physical relationship to the human body. She works internationally on ambitious projects that often involve a large number of participants, merging the physical with the political; the body and the private space of the individual function as allegories to the social and political sphere. Edry completed her Master of Fine Art with Distinction at Goldsmiths, University of London (2011) and a BA of Fine Art at Bezalel Academy of Art & Design Jerusalem (2005), she studied painting at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts de Paris (2003-4) and acting at the Nissan Nativ Acting Studio, Tel Aviv. Her recent solo show at the Ein Harod Museum, Israel titled “The Silver Salver” (2012) explored the relevance of national Israeli emblems and involved living sculptures; actors and actresses who dressed up as exported fruits and vegetables in a reconstruction of a bloody battle field. Artis Grant recipient 2012, shortlisted for the Red Mansion Art Prize (2011), Israeli Arts Council Grant recipient (2008), winner of the Bremen Art Grant (2008), winner of the International Jewish Artist of the Year Award (2004).

Art quote:: The artwork will not let me lie

“..it is very hard to always be very strong, but I try to do it, and to have a lot of courage and faith. It is not that I am doing the right thing; I am doing the only thing I can do. There is no other way I can do my work. I cannot think about what will happen and who will see it and what will they think? I can only do what my heart says, because if I lie… I cannot lie. The artwork will not let me lie. I think it is beyond me, really, beyond me as a person and as an artist.”

Excerpt from Noam Edry – A constant battle for the freedom of speech in a web of taboos and envy

Art quote:: “To be able to do my work I have to be both male and female”

“To be able to do my work I have to be both male and female.  A woman with balls, balls of steel. I had a g-string made of little sparkling silver beads sewn onto my futuristic silver suit with massive shoulder pads like a silver platter, like a man.”

Excerpt from 

Review:: ‘This Bloody Excrement Is My Testament’

 

Art quote:: Gilda Williams on the beauty of artistic collaboration

“The reason the Gothic cathedral is so wonderful, is not the stained glass. It’s because it is a wonderful model of a community of artists. Everybody is working on their glass, their carvings, and their floors and it is what you see embodied in this building. He is not even interested in the Christianity and so forth; he is interested in this place for being a place where artisans can come and join and work. There are different varying levels; there is this good carving and the not so good; it doesn’t matter. If you’re an artist you can find a place there. Beautiful! Beautiful idea around the Gothic, which is of course the one that has sort of been shed today. And of course this is the symbol, the idea of Gothic, which made it beautiful to the Bauhaus, which is, I repeat, is lost.”

Excerpt from recorded talk Gilda Williams @ ICA ::::Gothic Art: Beyond Motif

Gilda Williams @ ICA ::::Gothic Art: Beyond Motif

Sunday , 12/6/11 , 5:00PM

This is a recording of part 1 of 3  in the panel discussion.

Quotes from introduction

“I am also interested in the art historical origins. Not so much really looking in dept in presenting here those theories, but I am interested in the idea that is gained from the art historical origins which the renaissance talked about; medieval architecture as Gothic, as being a cultural force that is out of one’s control. It is a cultural force that is forced upon you, that is inherited from the past and that you need to somehow cope with. “

“Just because no one is expecting it I think I’ll just take a few ideas around the Gothic. The Gothic is a really interesting word because it not only gains new meanings, but it loses others over history and there are some wonderful meanings that it has had in the past that are kind of fantastic. Of course the Gothic was really important for Bauhaus for example. Not the Gothic, the literary Gothic, the way we think of it now, but the idea of a Gothic cathedral is taken as a symbol for this new community of artisans for Ruskin, who is to this day, I think, one of the most interesting theorists surrounding the Gothic.

He said that what is interesting about the Gothic; the reason the Gothic cathedral is so wonderful, is not the stained glass. It’s because it is a wonderful model of a community of artists. Everybody is working on their glass, their carvings, and their floors and it is what you see embodied in this building. He is not even interested in the Christianity and so forth; he is interested in this place for being a place where artisans can come and join and work. There are different varying levels; there is this good carving and the not so good; it doesn’t matter. If you’re an artist you can find a place there. Beautiful! Beautiful idea around the Gothic, which is of course the one that has sort of been shed today. And of course this is the symbol, the idea of Gothic, which made it beautiful to the Bauhaus, which is, I repeat, is lost.”

 

Art quote:: Noam Edry on what art is capable of communicating

What do you think art is capable of communicating?

Do you know why it is an unfashionable life? Because it is so lo-tech. In Israel we don’t have fashion as readily available as you do here; it is so hard to get your hands on anything like that for many reasons. It’s not such a wealthy place to come from; it’s surrounded by enemy states; so it’s unfashionable. Here it is the opposite; Israel is very fashionable in the UK. It seems to be as big as China, because everyone has something to say about Israel. It is a way of not talking about the poverty in Britain, the homeless people here. It is a way of not talking about many internal problems, like the Irish situation. It is easier to make someone else the front line. So, when I called it unfashionable it was also controversial or with a pinch of salt. Everything in the show could be interpreted in many ways. Everyone thought it was a man that had made the show, with all the phallic symbols; the penises.

So in this way art is able to both reveal the viewer’s prejudices and suggest alternative perspectives and ideas.

Painting ‘The Pussycats’

Women got enraged when they saw The Pussycats (painting), thinking that a man had made it. When they met me it all changed, because it was suddenly a feminist statement on the machoism of society, the machoism of the media world and the art world; it is a man’s world. You have to be a woman with balls to  make it.

Then there was the question ‘Are you Palestinian?’ and the funny thing was that the Palestine Solidarity Campaign at Goldsmiths came on the private view and got really annoyed. I asked them ‘What is annoying you? What are you enraged about? Is it the work?’ They couldn’t understand, they couldn’t say what, because the work showed nothing that was ‘anti’ in the way they had expected it to. They were upset that I was feeling demonized as an Israeli. ‘How dare you feel demonized as an Israeli?’ ‘I do. You are the people who demonize me in your campaigns.’ So again, after that they just didn’t come. They came with the intention to crash the show or to make a protest, but they came and saw they had nothing to crash.

Read full interview Noam Edry – “I Am the Terrorist”

Detail: Painting ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Oil Stain’

Review:: ‘This Bloody Excrement Is My Testament’

Review of Noam Edry’s solo show and performance ‘The Silver Salver’ at the Museum of Art, Ein Harod, Israel, which marked the end of 2011 and the inauguration of the new Miron Sima Auditorium

Photo: Guy Barkan

We love the pink low-calorie lychee these days, its sweet and perfumy flesh makes a fabulous cocktail and it is the perfect smoothie ingredient with its high levels of Vitamin C, fiber and potassium. There are, however, good lychees and bad lychees, so make sure to buy the right one. If two legs are embracing the pit of the moaning, groaning and sighing lychee, moving from hysteria to orgasm and back again, you might have encountered an Israeli lychee. There are also bad dates and oranges which will bleed, moan, shit and cry.

The silver coated floor of The Ein Harod Museum of Art was stained by an uncontrollable flow of blood during the opening of Noam Edry’s solo museum show The Silver Salver and the coinciding inauguration of the new Miron Sima Auditorium, which was celebrated with the unveiling of a gigantic rock’n’roll war machine chickpea. Women, men and children in the audience searched for pieces of tissue to give the bleeding orange a helping hand, when a screaming woman suddenly shot through the crowd. The first part of the shocking performance lasted 90 minutes, during which the lychee, the date and the bleeding orange were rattling and shaking on the silver floor (the silver platter), moving around and between the spectators and wreaking havoc across the entire museum.

Photo: Guy Barkan

Photo: Guy Barkan

The emotional reality of the helplessness experienced in a country with mandatory military service and where people blow themselves up to kill others is only one aspect of the multi-layered silver platter. By using elements deeply embedded in the language of performance art, Edry invites the audience to reflect upon values as well as the lack of values, both on a personal and a political level. Edry’s combination of performance art and sculpture allows her to oversee the extravaganza like the director of a chaotic circus.

In the artist’s own words, “‘The Silver Salver‘ examines the real “fruits” exported by Israeli society; what is the price of being Israeli, what part does the individual play in it? From a feminist point of view, it is about the forced sacrifices of Israeli women and in many ways, all women. We sacrifice our womanhood in this society and in every society; served on silver platters like exotic fruits. You want exotic fruits? Here, you can have them. They are going to scream, yell, faint, puke, bleed, get wet and get dry and all that. You want a woman – you get a woman.”

 

Photo: Omer Ben Zvi

 

In this work, the woman is reduced to an equation of her circumstances, random coincidences of life and controlling structures of political, biological and social systems. From this point of view womanhood is not a pretty sight and the collective illusion, i.e. our shared beliefs about what the real, successful and complete woman is like, are torn to pieces because of the undeniably human element of the liquids and sounds coming out of the sculptures’ bodies. Edry’s position is still critical towards current frames of thought and it might be suggested that she is asking her fellow women to get a grip and to stop victimizing themselves despite the inherited burdens; they will not ”go away”, action is required. Her recent shows have made both women and men cry, because this is a struggle all conscious human beings will recognize; it is a fight for individual freedom within society.

After the surprisingly wide-spanning, coherent and powerful MFA graduation show Conversation Pieces – Scenes of Unfashionable Life at Goldsmiths in London (July 2011), Edry received the commission from Dr Galia Bar Or, Curator and Director of The Museum of Art, Ein Harod. The main inspiration for the show was the poem The Silver Salver, written in 1947 by Nathan Alterman. The poem is based on the saying “The state will not be given to the Jewish people on a silver platter”, attributed to Israel’s first president Chaim Weizmann. The dream of an equal and functional two state solution lives on among both Arabs and Jews, but the conflict persists. The hysterical date and the sexually repressed lychee can be understood as symbols of the Israeli people’s moaning and groaning about the situation. The political dimension of the work is a double-edged sword, where Edry is communicating the national sacrifice as well as the responsibility of each individual citizen to face reality and to put their shoulder to the wheel. “We sacrifice the possibility of contributing to the world, because we are being boycotted and barred from academies. Are we going to continue this stale mate?” the artist continues. “Are my children going to have to go to the army? We think we are in control, but life is dictated to us by men in positions of power.”

 

Photo: Reut Kersz

Photo: Guy Barkan

 

The inauguration itself was the grand finale of the performance in which the giant chickpea monument covered in royal blue satin with a golden ribbon, was unveiled by Edry and the chief curator. They were both dressed in silver and conducted the ceremony like a couple of space army generals.  One of the four crewmen, the armed almighty rock star, appeared on top of the sculpture and started humping his gun aggressively, causing the entire sculpture to rattle in line with a loud bass beat and an increasingly mad harmonica melody coming from inside of the sculpture. Two adjacent larger-than-life wall projections transmitted what was going on inside and outside the chickpea, culminating in a beautifully grotesque image of the hero’s naked bottom wobbling uncontrollably. Smoke and strobe lights created an urgent feeling of rock’n’roll war á la Hollywood. He was the cool guy, wasn’t he? We have seen him in many film productions. He is the bad guy who gets the pretty woman and he is the face of Israel. Was it a coincidence that the chickpea resembled an obese bottom or a giant pair of testicles, rattling and shaking like fat? The man in control made love to the weapon until he finally reached a climax and shot hundreds of boiled chickpeas towards the audience.

Edry explains, “I wanted to make people understand that this is what we look like from the outside. The spectacle of the female fruits hadn’t changed a thing, because despite their impact, influence and inspiration, we were still stuck with this enormous thing spraying the audience with its seeds of war. It is about our lack of control in this social order.”

DJ Food’s Cosmic Travels at Pure Evil gallery

We leave ordinary life outside as we enter Pure Evil gallery for the DJ Food exhibition on this fine Thursday evening in an increasingly cold and miserable London. DJ Food’s The Search Engine has finally been released on Ninja Tune and this exhibition is showcasing sound, visuals and fine art connected to the close-to one hour of revelation of sonic pleasure. On the ground floor, the crowd is lounging around, sipping beer, networking and loosing themselves in the intricate, mind-numbing and enticing art of Henry Flint, comic book illustrator of 2000AD as well as freestyling artist. A mixed flavor of unstoppable creative flows come together at this show at Pure Evil gallery, which can be explained by the owner’s, Charles ‘Pure Evil’ Uzzell-Edwards, love for all things creative. In addition to Henry Flint’s mind tripping artworks, DJ Food’s psychedelic audiovisual installation and the collaboration between the two, Will Cooper-Mitchell’s hot photographs of DJ Food in a replica astronaut suit are on display. All this is featured in a limited comic-sized 48-page CD booklet for sale at the gallery.

DJ Food, who has been a fan and a collector of Henry Flint’s art/illustrations for years, writes on his blog that Henry Flint’s work was the main source of inspiration for this exhibition.  We can read how their collaboration begun on NinaTune.net: “The images were exactly what he [DJ Food] had been looking for as the starting point for the artwork on a series of EPs he was making, later to form an album on Ninja Tune. Henry sent a stack of images for Kev [DJ Food] to pick from and gave him permission to color them for the artwork, which were issued as foldout poster covers on three 12″ EPs.”

I know what is hiding in the basement and make my way down into the audiovisual world of DJ Food aka Strictly Kev. The powerful installation is pulsating in our vision and in our ears, inviting us to jump on that space train with loose teasing rhythms in curious sonic collages. Do I need to mention that the ambiance is hypnotic? The visuals contain details of molecular worlds of unknown life forms and entrancing mandalas are flying over our faces like an extra layer of skin. It strikes me that we are wrapped up in an angular momentum here; the force vibrates between the layers, smoothly merged together in time and the extended body of this mass affects us in some way as we sip our Peroni, but I am not sure how. DJ Food’s sonic art is not disturbing as Gordon Mumma’s The Dresden Interleaf 13 February 1945 from 1965, the notorious noise piece performed on the twentieth anniversary of the firestorm bombing of Dresden, because rather than reacting politically to a world in disorder, Strictly Kev is reacting poetically to the cosmos and the aim of his music is to take us out of the material realm and further. If this music, this sonic art, had been played to Air Chief Marshal Arthur Harris, who was head of the Royal Air Force during the bombings of Dresden in 1945, he would have resigned and enrolled for NACA (early NASA).

“I began to see sounds, to feel sounds, like waves against my skin […] Have you ever touch a sound? Ever seen thunder?” From In Orbit Every Monday on The Search Engine

As described by Robert Lamb, one of Discovery News’ contributors, DJ Food has been “dropping cosmic noise, robotic bleeps and alien hip-hop on Solid Steel Radio Show listeners for 17 years”.  Coldcut and PC of the Cinematic Orchestra were originally included under the banner ‘DJ Food’, which is now synonymous to Ninja Tune artist Strictly Kev. “DJ Food?” The name puts a smile on people’s faces, but honestly, I want to eat his recent Ninja Tune release The Search Engine. He is still an ambassador of sonically enhanced poetry and track 5 Sentinel (Shadow Guard) rests on the meanest bass line since Squarepusher’s Tetra-Sync. If there is one element that is missing in the show in order to reflect the essence of DJ Food, it is the lyrical. A spoken word performance would be an interesting addition to the next exhibition.

 

DJ Food asked Henry Flint to draw “A cosmonaut, hanging in space, strapped into an unfeasibly large backpack, the kind you could only wear in zero gravity”

A wide range of art works by Henry Flint is on display and he certainly knows how to use that ink. His art has a life of its own. As an artist, his subject matters evolve around a universe with magnificent potential, mystery and demons lurking in the corners of impossible buildings and perplexing situations; monstrous misfits and unseen patterns pour out of the subconscious mind of an artist who could have been an architect was it not that he had too good ideas.  There is dazzling movement, detail, diversity and complexity; all of which comes beautifully together within a sheet of paper. I am almost upset that I haven’t come across his work earlier, but I now have the accompanying publication BROADCAST – The TV Doodles of Henry Flint. This is a compilation of works Flint made while allowing his conscious mind to be distracted by the TV, hence leaving the subconscious in charge.

Many years passed since DJ Food delivered a full length to the world and as I look back on the release of Kaleidoscope in 2000, I remember many nights with The Crow on repeat. In my industrial hometown in Sweden, Västerås, we were listening to the album with awe while plowing the Internet for useful Cubase VST plugins and VJ softwares, painting on the walls and writing poetry in between. DJ Food has always inspired hyper creativity and it is only to be expected that he manages to put this night together at the Pure Evil gallery, with the help of Pure Evil and his beautiful assistant Molly. 

The icing on the cake is when Pure Evil comes downstairs and opens up the door to his old school music studio. He urges us to come over and jam on drum machines and on “I think they call them drum kits. It is what they used in the old days to make a beat.”

 

Born a War Painter


Mother’s Day drawing at the age of 3, Edry’s earliest recollection of overpainting

”It is pretty amazing, looking back at life, how I have always had the privilege of being supported. Sometimes I don’t believe in myself, but when there are so many people who do believe in you, it strengthens you to continue on the artist’s journey.” – Noam Edry

In 2008 I got to know a Canadian abstract painter in his mid twenties whose parents dedicated the entire basement to his artistic endeavors. The first time I entered his studio I felt as if I had stepped into a dream world. There were hundreds upon hundreds of huge high quality canvases stacked along the walls like CDs at HMV. They were all beautiful and experimental abstract paintings, strongly influenced by Gerhard Richter. Wandering around in Wonderland, I stumbled on a mountain chain of used oil paint tubes. Luckily enough, I was wearing the epic studio guest-slippers, which were already covered in a Pollock pattern, including the soles. I suspect that those canvases have multiplied themselves without leaving the house, because it doesn’t matter how well you are taken care of by your family and other supporters; in order to succeed as an artist, you need to have Edry’s almost frightening impetus and a determination to keep on going no matter what anyone says.

Edry’s childhood is a wonderful story to be told: At the age of three she was discovered by the local kibbutz artist, who worked as a handy man in her kindergarten. When the man was called in to work, he always found her in the middle of a new drawing and started calling her ‘the painter’. Eventually the very young artist was invited by the experienced artist to have private lessons.

“I remember going to his studio and being totally fascinated by the smells and the colors, thinking ‘Wow, this is what a real artist does, I want to be a real artist!’ He tried teaching me to paint with aquarelle, in a specific technique which I found very rigid. I didn’t understand why I had to paint in his way. I found it very hard, but I also enjoyed the privilege that he was giving me.”

Most kids enjoy making cards for birthdays and special occasions and they are always really sweet with glued on deformed hearts and misspelled declarations of love. I can’t recall ever having seen a child covering a Mother’s Day card in a crayon colored square grid, but I didn’t go to daycare with Edry. For Mothers Day, when she was three, the daycare provided the kids with a square sheet of paper mounted on a wooden frame. Edry started drawing circles and thought it looked really nice, but decided to add a grid and at this point there was no return. The three year old had to keep going, exploring and pushing the limits until the point where the whole white square sheet of paper was full of crayon colors. Smiling at the memory, Edry said “I think that is my earliest recollection of ruining a painting; of over-painting“.

By recommendation of the painter, Edry’s parents bought Windsor and Newton watercolors and the specified brushes for their four year old daughter. One year later it was time for the family to move to London and in their new house, a little painting cove was built inside one of the wardrobes. Whenever the five year old decided to paint with her high quality materials, she would open the door of the wardrobe, sit down and paint. On occasion the little artist would be critical of her creation and throw it in the bin, but it was always rescued by her father.

The most fundamental requirement to achieve success in any field must be to have a limitless interest, a sincere passion for the subject, unless the ultimate goal is financial gain. One of Edry’s pre-school teachers was studying psychology and one day she conducted an experiment on the children. She gave them all a lump of clay and recorded the amount of time they were playing with it. Later on, Edry’s mother was told that everyone abandoned the lump of clay within 2-5 minutes, except for her daughter, who spent half an hour battling with this lump, sculpting it and molding it with her tiny little hands.

“My parents always recognized this gift that I have and they always made sure I had the room to do it. When we lived in London in our second house, we had this wonderful dining room with wooden paneling all over, including the ceiling and a beautiful fire place. They sacrificed the whole room and made it into my studio. I painted enormous paintings inside“.

 

 

Edry’s political engagement became evident one day at the orthodox Jewish school she attended in London. It was a strictly religious school, but it was her only option as a Jewish woman in London and despite not being religious, she was fascinated by the opportunity to get an insight into her culture and identity. Early on Edry was discovered by the art teacher Hinda Golding, who gave her leave from various classes to paint massive scenery billboards for the school play. The artist struggled to find her own identity within the school uniform and uniformity of thought, and decided to shave her head at the age of 14. It was a feminist gesture provoked by the conservative policies of the school, in which the male Morning Prayer went ‘Blessed be He for not making me a woman’, and the women’s version went ‘Blessed be the Lord for making me as he made me, according to his will.’

The girls had to pray every week at a general assembly, segregated from the boys. They stood quiet and still, because they were not allowed to join the men. One day Edry had enough and told the girls ‘Ok, we are going to sing today. Take it after me, I will start and you will follow.’ As the leader of the service announced the name of the prayer she had chosen, she started singing and everyone joined in. Once the girls started singing, the rabbi didn’t know what to do. They were not allowed to hear a woman’s voice, so they had to join in.

“From having this monotonous drilling on with mumblings of speech, it became a full sing along prayer. Everyone was shocked afterwards, wondering what had just happened. I was called as the representative of the girls to speak to the Head of Jewish Studies. He asked me ‘So, what do you want?’ I found myself sitting there negotiating the terms for the entire female congregation. I couldn’t say that I wanted women to be equal members of the prayer, because it was still a conservative school, but what we did achieve was to have an all-female prayer as well, where we could sing aloud and do what we wanted to do.” 

 

 

At the age of 17 it was time to say goodbye to London and go back to Israel. From painting almost non-stop and selling works, Edry had to lock up her passion and learn how to serve the country. In order to say goodbye to London, she spent an entire month sketching a different favorite location every day. Her father would often accompany her for safety reasons and sometimes her siblings joined in as well. The series was called ‘My kind of London’. One day when Edry was sketching her own house, a person walking by took a liking to the drawing and asked her to come and sketch his house. The trend spread and the commissions started pouring in, but it was time for the family to leave the UK.

Back in Israel everything changed. After a fortnight of basic military training followed by a few weeks of specific training for her unit, Edry became depressed and didn’t understand why. “I had never been depressed before, I just felt completely lost. The meaning of life escaped me entirely. When I finally made the connection, I smuggled some art materials into my army post. It was completely forbidden. I had nothing to paint, other than four walls. I don’t remember if there was even a window. I sat there and sketched my left hand”. However interesting it is to sketch hands, the day comes when you get sick of it. Eventually, Edry gathered the courage to venture outside to sketch the surroundings of the military base, which was situated on the edge of a cliff. The military base, the netting, the atmosphere, the military camouflage and the fishermen were among her subject matters. When it leaked out that Edry was breaking the rules, the commander was very encouraging and gave her permission to use his office as a studio when he was away. Colleagues from the UN were given drawings as a gesture of good will and they still follow Edry’s career.

 

Noam Edry, Study of my Hand 2000 I and II, pencil on paper, 30 x 42 cm

 

With regards to her present preoccupations, a series of commissions from Israeli art museums, Edry says “The most important thing to me is to not conform, but to stay true to who I am. What is the point of art if it doesn’t engender social change? How long can an artist be preoccupied only with the inner crevasses of the soul and not be a socially productive human being? I strive now to blur the boundaries of what is art and what is social. I wish it will have some kind of effect beyond the art institution“.

::::ContemporaryTalks.com 20 January 2012

 

_____________________________________________________________

[More on Noam Edry]

_____________________________________________________________

Interview Series 2011

Part 1 – A constant battle for the freedom of speech in a web of taboos and envy

Part 2 – From sharp-edged politics to an S&M club and back again

Part 3 – “I Am the Terrorist”

Feature on Childhood

Born a War Painter

Reviews

Museum of Art, Ein Harod, Israel, 2012

Goldsmiths MFA 2011