• Issue
  • #
  • 1
  • Transformation

Preface

Video works – homepage:
Maayan Shahar, Milk, 2016
Sara Kaminker, A Vase in the Heart, 2015, Photography: Smadar Liani,
Editing: Yoav Rot
Sivan Scheffner ,Puddle, 2017, from the project ‘Unconsciously Skilled’

Dr. Eran Ehrlich – Head of the Department of Ceramics and Glass Design

The new journal Tripod: Material – Text – Image is the platform launched by the Department of Ceramics and Glass Design as part of a broader initiative to turn the department into a leading academic center in the field of ceramics and glass, both locally and internationally.

Such transformation reflects our commitment to the construction of a vibrant material-visual culture, which is complex and layered. In our Department, we believe that as an academic institution we are charged with the task of not only giving our students the best training as artists, makers or designers, but also developing the entire manifold of possible interfaces between theory and praxis, tradition and innovation, interdisciplinary collaborations and the formation of a unique space for craft.

In order to realize this view, the Department of Ceramics and Glass Design assimilated into its study program several research frameworks, and we are deeply engaged in the development of research methodologies based on the material and historical knowledge related to ceramics and glass. Moreover, the Department develops an extensive network of interrelations with artists, designers, research institutions, sister universities and craft centers in Israel and abroad. This is done by maintaining residency programs, sending faculty members to conferences, running exchange and training programs as well as student apprenticeships, organizing courses and workshops abroad and assembling collaborative research groups.

In addition, the Department established a research platform that operates in a variety of adjacent fields – from historical study, through development of new teaching materials and methods, to novel technological developments for medicinal and architectural use.

It is only natural for this extensive research activity and the development of craft theory and thinking to be awarded a textual framework offering a public platform for the sharing of accumulated knowledge with the community, which is aware of the contribution and value that craft discourse and production bring with them; hence, the unique character of our journal.

The effort that was undertaken to transform this idea to reality was considerable and complex, since the model we wished to introduce was novel and unique in the context of the professional literature in Hebrew. Beyond the great significance of founding an academic, peer-reviewed journal on craft in Hebrew, making this journal a window on a possibility for international dialog is also of paramount importance, therefore it is bilingual. We hope that soon, the journal could become trilingual and provide a basis for an advanced, general and inclusive discussion of craft activity within our sphere.

The choice of transformation as the central theme of our first issue lays the groundwork for the journal’s character, as a platform that raises broad issues or conceptual expanses and brings the contribution of craft study to the fore.

I wish to thank Hilla Ben Ari, the journal’s editor, for her consistent and determined work and for her sensitivity and accuracy in pointing the emphases and making the decisions required for the journal’s development. I also wish to thank the editorial staff, the designer Elinor Shalem, the linguistic editor and translator Ran Cohen and to all the authors and participants.

In addition, I wish to express my gratitude to Dr. Ori Bartal, head of the Department of History and Theory, for his assistance and counseling, and to the academy’s administration: Larry David, the Financial Officer; Dor Lin– the academy’s Director; Dr. Yuval Karniel – Deputy President for Academic Affairs; and Prof. Adi Stern – President, for their support.

Hilla Ben Ari – Editor

The concept of “transformation”, with which we wished to start the new journal, enables to conduct an extensive discussion of material and conceptual issues and gives rise to questions regarding identity, language and material within cultural, social and political contexts. Transformation processes are at the heart of creative activity, which can trigger changes and transmute spaces of consciousness and physical states.11 See the statements by Louise Bourgeois on transformation in her works: “Louise Bourgeois – ‘I Transform ... Opening the possibility to shift between states, to effect change, to generate motion that undermine familiar boundaries, is a political act. This idea can be read even in works that do not involve these motivations explicitly or that are essentially based on technological and material aspects.22 See Doris Salcedo on the wide definition she proposes for political art: “Doris Salcedo – Shibboleth | ...

Material transformations stand at the center of creation in the fields of ceramics and glass. The changes that these materials undergo in their becoming objects/products/bodies can move between absorption and drying, becoming filled up and depleted, melting and coagulation. This complex material system, with its physical and metaphoric meanings and its traditions and cultural contexts, is a fertile ground for various readings in the fields of craft, design and art (Ehrlich, 2016).

This creative space, which has enjoyed rapid growth in recent decades, invokes novel modes of writing and discourse. The relations between text and material are often perceived as dichotomous ones, in which the material appears as mute. In this journal, however, we wish to examine new possibilities for this relation, and to encourage authors, whose activity is firmly rooted in material production, to offer a new textual expression that would substantiate that unarticulated complexity. The question, whether a new kind of writing can be created out of material, is proposed here for action.

In Western culture, “material” and “femininity” are both located in the powerless part of the dichotomous equation.33 See Orly Lubin, on the viewpoint of the powerless, focusing on materiality and the body: ”Exile Has Borders Too”, ... Is it possible, out of this bond, to relate the potential of “other” writing from within the material to that “other” writing from within the feminine body, for which philosophers such as Cixous and Irigaray have tried to give a place and lay out a path? (Cixous, 1975; Irigaray, 1977).

The material-body-language relation is present as a central theme in Eran Ehrlich’s paper, “Transporcelain”. Ehrlich reads the subversive dimension in the material works of the creator Irit Abba, by connecting it to the bodily language proposed by Irigaray in her writings, and to the disruption of language discussed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in their book Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature.

Another expression of the other language is given in Reuven Zahavi’s paper, which examines the theme of the vase in Yael Atzmony’s works and reads it as a complex coordinate map. The iconic vase is changing and transmuting with its different forms and mutations, exposing traumas encased in the material and transforming and fusing in its cavities complex manifestations of space-time relations.

A different view of ceramic ware is offered in a paper by Valentine Roux, who studies the ceramic traditions of the Levant between the 5th and 3rd millennia BC. In her paper, she discusses the factors that led to the developments of ceramic techniques as a case study of technological evolutions. This study leads to questions regarding social influences and the individual’s contribution to the community.

The constant tension between society and the individual is examined, through its political aspects, by Zivia Kay and Iris Aravot, in a paper in which they propose effective mechanisms for creating civil resistance. By means of their newly-created concept “Signature of Appearance”, they discuss the manner in which the individual’s appearance in the public sphere can constitute itself as an aesthetic-activist act. The paper is published in Hebrew only.

The social and cultural imports embedded in the material are at the center of Noa Razer’s study. In her paper, she examines the uniqueness of citations in ceramic works, and even proposes to read the ceramic material as something that functions as a citation in itself. Issues of place, belonging, connection with the past or its eradication – all these are discussed as themes of material citation.

Lior Schur deals with material transformations in the context of mental processes of art therapy. In her study, she examines the unconscious, unconceptualized domains in creation, therapy and even in the very process of writing, and points at their critical importance for transformative and therapeutic processes.

A special chapter, dedicated to images, was edited by Galia Armeland, who chose to focus on six vases and the narratives incorporated into them, and on transformations between painting and material and between two-dimensional and three-dimensional. Each of the images splits into visual fragments, through which a network of references, information bits and new contexts unfolds, creating together a kind of a complete-disassembled body.

Moreover, the journal features four student researches that were developed, mostly, as part of a new study platform that has been launched by the Department of Ceramics and Glass in Bezalel three years ago. This platform seeks to connect theoretical and material research:

Adam Salvi, a graduate of the department, publishes a paper that sums up a research carried out during his studies. His paper deals with glass-blowing molds, and points at the critical influence that this technique has on groundbreaking innovations and achievements in this field.

Uriel H. Caspi, Jr. examines in his paper the practice of cremation and the use of urns in Western culture. He elaborates the historic development of this practice and of the factors determining its acceptance by Western society, and he traces its material and metaphorical contexts into archetypes of home and fire.

Shaked Cohen presents a visual study that began following a fire in her parental home in the previous year. The fire resulted in massive destruction and loss, but also left behind some objects of new and spectacular forms. The study included collecting, documenting and reflexively examining the transformations of material, identity and memory.

Questions of identity also led Mariam Jarallah to research glass making in Hebron. In her short video, she tells the story of the richly diverse glass manufacturing that once existed in the city, as opposed to the many obstacles this occupation faces today, and its vague future.

 

I wish to thank Eran Ehrlich, head of the Department of Ceramics and Glass Design, for his broad vision and his sanctioning of the project, and to the authors and to everyone who participated in this first issue – for their tremendous investment and highly creative work.

 

Issue I – Transformation

Text editing and translation: Ran Cohen
UX and Design: Elinor Shalem
Website Building: Felix Wasserstein
Assistant Editor: Moran Lee Yakir
Assistant: Ella Gutman

 

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1. See the statements by Louise Bourgeois on transformation in her works: “Louise Bourgeois – ‘I Transform Hate into Love’ | TateShots” (2016), (accessed: 13.12.17).
2. See Doris Salcedo on the wide definition she proposes for political art: “Doris Salcedo – Shibboleth | TateShots” (2008), (accessed: 13.12.17).
3. See Orly Lubin, on the viewpoint of the powerless, focusing on materiality and the body: ”Exile Has Borders Too”, (2012), (accessed: 13.12.17).

Bibliography

Bourgeois, L. (2016), “I Transform Hate into Love”, Tate Modern,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qy7xJhImnLw (accessed: 13.12.17).

Erlich, E. (2016), Wet-Fired: The 8th Biennale of Israeli Ceramics (Catalog), Tel Aviv: Eretz Israel Museum.

Irigaray, L. (1977), This Sex Which Is Not One, (trans. 1985), Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Lubin O. (2012), ”Exile Has Borders Too”,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWe9KQunvGg (accessed: 13.12.17).

Salcedo, D. (2008), “Doris Salcedo – Shibboleth”, Tate Modern,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIJDn2MAn9I (accessed: 13.12.17).

Cixous, H. (1975), The Laugh of the Medusa (trans. 1976) Signs, Vol. 1, No. 4. (Summer, 1976), pp. 875-893.

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