1. Materials are central stage in this oeuvre, what is this specific selection evincing on human’s nature?

It’s very true that materials are central stage in this project. Various types of metal wool, unraveled felt, Acrilan pillow stuffing, and real mold were the materials used to create this project. The whole idea of controlling time and the illusion of patina are superbly expressed by Weinstein’s choice of materials. Over the past decade Weinstein has frequently used steel wool to simulate “drawing,” and has also used other types of color felt to create works that simulate “painting.” The choice of steel wool – a strong, rough industrial material that is usually concealed under the kitchen sink together with various detergents – has become a signature element in his works. The presence of the steel wool on the support provokes the sensation that the image grew organically over time from the surface, like stubble or grass. The addition of mold, which is both organic and mineral, and the very use of live spores as an experimental material, blur the line between signifier and signified by focusing on the material’s absolute, natural truth – the thing in itself.

The materials used in “Sun Stand Still” are all simple materials lacking any unique expressive characteristics and they all have a tactile aspect, ranging from synthetic to organic, as a physical presence that inspires seduction to touch and feel. It has to do with the basic human instinct to understand the world by touching, something that is pre-linguistic.

To answer your question I would like to quote the last paragraph of my catalogue essay, which illuminate how materials convey the narrative of the work: “What begins as an expression of hubris through omnipotent fantasies to control the world order and master natural forces ends with anxiety and an existential threat; in between these fantasies and their demise lies the “mold agriculture” nourished by the micro-organisms of Venice, which continue to grow slowly and persistently. These tiny organisms, which exist far from the greatness of the biblical miracle or the destructive power of missile technology, will end by consuming everything. In this spirit, the installation as a whole may be severed from its ties to the Middle East and read as an ecological-apocalyptic vision, challenging the limits of human hubris in the enterprise of civilization.”

Sun StandStill 2017 – Installation view – Israeli Pavillon – Photo Claudio Franzini – Courtesy of Gal Weinstein

 

  1. In your essay “Stopping Time, Molding Mold” you use the term “rhetoric of indifference” to differentiate Weinstein’s work to that of Kieffer and Hans Haacke. Could you please develop on this?

I referred to these two artists because of the apparent similarity, if only superficial, between certain parts of “Sun Stand Still” and Kieffer’s and Haacke’s works that dealt with apocalyptic images of destruction and mourning. I compared Weinstein’s project to Hans Haacke’s Germania (1993) where he transformed the national pavilion and undermined its neutrality as an exhibition space. Haacke uprooted the marble floor of the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale – pointing back to the Nazi history of the building, which was erected in 1938 under the command of Joseph Goebbels. Both Weinstein and Haacke’s works are pervaded by a deep sense of destruction, while framing the exhibition space as a symbolic site whose history becomes inseparable from the artwork.

I also referred to Anselm Kiefer’s Painting of the Scorched Earth (1974) – those vast images of burnt forests and desert expanses that have some resemblance to the moldy floors and walls in Weinstein’s installation. The scorched clods of earth, the felled trees, and the murky, furnace-like palette of Kiefer’s work are pervaded by an atmosphere of lamentation following destruction by a massive fire, volcanic eruption, or nuclear explosion.  However, the fundamental difference between these works and “Sun Stand Still” lies in Weinstein’s strategy of distancing himself from the charged content. A strategy I called “the rhetoric of indifference” – which is a total absence of any expressive tremor, or traces of any artist’s “hand writing”. Instead, there is an obsessive, repetitive, calculated labor-intensive process.

 

  1. How is the artwork responding to the theme Viva Arte Viva?

Quoting Christine Macel, VIVA ARTE VIVA is “an exclamation, a passionate outcry for art and the state of the artist.” Without any planning, “Sun Stand Still” happens to fit perfectly within this general concept of saluting the art practice. One cannot think of a better manifestation of this idea: a passionate Sisyphean effort invested in thousands hours to laboriously create cultivated mold with various types of metal wool which was glued to hundreds of panels, sprayed by various liquids to create different shades of rust and then flown from Tel Aviv to Venice, where it looks like real mold: a senseless meticulous act that has absolutely no meaning outside of the art world.

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