Yossi Waxman

Writer, Artist, Designer 

The History of Art

 Xhargol & Modan Books, 2015

I am the fire. I consumed the pines on the garden's edge, the old pitanga (Surinam cherry) bush, the bitter-grapefruit tree, and the fake orange you've never tasted. I am the fire that went up the hill and down the olive grove, over the road, and up to the higher terrace, burned the orange bougainvillea, and torched the pine trees, and they saw the job through with sparks and fiery cones they hurled at the almond trees, and the pitanga, and the old Chinese pepper bushes.

 

I am the wind. I fanned the flames that burned your pines, went up the hill and down the olive orchard, and consumed your old garden that you had raked and fertilized and watered and loved. I am the scorching easterly wind and I chased away not only the firefighters and the cops, but also drove the dryads, the forest spirits, and the fairies out of tree trunks and foliage, and onions. I watched the wild boars running mad from the garden to the path, and from the path to the stairs that lead to the square. And it was pitch dark because the electricity poles on the outskirts of the village had burned down and fell, hitting the tall cypresses and the half-rotten fig
tree that was ignited by an electric spark, but was not consumed, only burned
and burned.

 

We are the boars who fled from the hill that was aflame all night. We who were burned and seared, and squalled and screamed, and stampeded from the olive grove to the road - which we never did before - down to the path to the houses on the outskirts of the village, to the smoky square, where people were yelling: "Where is that goddamned hose when you need it?" and others answered viciously: "Screw the state and the prime minister who just let us burn through the night!"

 

I am the fig tree who watched the boars, a large mother boar running in front of four little piglets, and saw the smallest in the rear falling away from the pack as its fur caught fire. I heard it squeal and scream until it stopped as it turned into a small ball of fire and saw its mother and brothers running for the last time in his short life.

 

***

 

The Artist

 

At home after the large Carmel fire.

 

I am writing in my diary. I meant to write diary entries ever since we moved to this artists' village, but found myself only doodling, sketching, drawing silly faces or genitals. I believe that every artist should have a diary, but I will not write about the people who were here, the founding artists, or of those who live here now. I shall write to understand myself, my art, and my lies.

 

I am a certified liar, and I've discovered that many people here are certified liars too. After all, art is utter lie, charlatanism, fraud. Even seemingly precise depictions of landscape or realistic portraits - hell, even artistic photos - are complete lies. I think I could not have lived without my lies, big and small. Without these lies I would have killed myself a long time ago.

 

***

 

The Spirits

 

We are the demons, spirits of the house and furniture and flowers in vases and fears in people's minds. We, who hide in closets and attics and gutters, are invisible but can hear the souls of people who grumble, covet, and dream. We lurk here, waiting for the right moment, for the fleeting split second, for chocked screams and the mad flash in the eye, for tiny arm hairs to stand on end. It is then that we unfold, revealing our splendor, our maliciousness in a spoken-unspoken word, a hissing curse, kicks, fistfights, knives, guns. Go, go go! Scream, chop, mutilate, terrify, deport, destroy, torch, leave no stone unturned, eradicate, covet, pillage.

 

We are the demons, spirits of the house. Why are we like that?

 

***

 

The Arab

 

What was here in the beginning?

 

There was an olive grove, a house, his mom and dad, and six siblings - three of each gender. He was the youngest. Grandma and grandpa were here too, living downstairs. There also was an older uncle who never married a woman because he was dumb, the poor thing. They lived on the roof where his dad built his mom a house when they got married. His auntie with her three children and goats lived across the street. His grandmother used to perform witchcraft for people, helping with diseases, infertility, rainfall, income, weddings. People came to see her from Haifa and many other places. His grandma saw everything: the demons, the thieves, the inside of women's wombs, the seeds in the ground, and that their time was short and that there was nothing to do except pray because that's how this world works, rolling on and on.

 

His grandma said there will be fire, and fire came. Grandma said people will die on the road below, and people died on the road below. She said the Inglizi will go away one day, and the Englishmen did leave. He was a small child and did not know what an Inglizi was. He suspected it was something evil, some kind of demon.

 

***

 

The Old, Dead Painter Lady

 

We were an asylum. That's what we were: shelter for bohemians, real artists, fake artists, and women who never got married or who preferred women. We gave shelter to eccentrics such as myself, who did not fit in. In Tel Aviv, we had to explain ourselves, be accountable, take blows, stutter evasive answers to nosy questions. Here, in this village, we lived far from the public eye and we partied.

 

Lord, how we partied! We painted on the broken walls and ceilings and arches that seemed to have been waiting here for a thousand years, just for us. We sucked out all the marrow of life like there was no tomorrow, as if everything was about to fall apart the next day and we would be forced to go back home and forget all about it. No one even considered what was here before us, or the future. Thinking about this today makes me want to puke all over myself, but back then, I was officially stupid. We were all stupid, actually. We realized Zionism with our hands and lips and tits and asses and cocks and vaginas.

 

And Zionism loved us, that's for sure, but just as you love a pretty painting on the wall - no more and no less.

 

***

 

Simon's Little Ass

 

I am "The Messiah's Ass" - a gray donkey made of a single cement block - 90cm long, 150cm high, 40cm wide; signed and dated: 1964. My legs are long and thin, my body is square with round edges, and my head is tilted sideways in a spoiled gesture. Dr Gamzu once wrote that I am a kind of a "hearty assness."

 

I believe that Simon (Shimon) Tangeri loved me more that his other sculptures. I am the last one he made before he decided to hang himself.

 

When I first came to Simon's mind, he was still happy. It was September, but summer still lingered. When his work was done and I was ready to emerge into this world, he could no longer stand longing for his lover, Sergey Aharonovich. He was very lonely then. He caressed me so very often, using liquid cement, rough sandpaper (when my cement hardened) and then sanded me softly, poured water over me, polishing me till I was smooth. He wished to create the world's first and last little donkey, the ultimate ass. I believe he succeeded.

 

Years later, Prof Moti Omer wrote that I was Simon Tangeri's Nimrod, I was his Sheep. He hinted that if Simon lived, he could have reached the heights of the great sculptor Isaac Danziger, no less. But back then, I was just a small ass. Later, touched by the elements, I cracked.

 

I am a sculpture by the artist Simon (Shimon) Tangeri, 1936-1964.

 

***

 

The Fire II

 

I am the fire and I burned your pretty gardens. I am the fire and I went up the hill and descended through the olive orchard down to the road, to the road… I burned you and I will burn you yet, if not this year then the next, or the year after that. You will not escape me! I will burn your paintings and sculptures and installations, your photographs and your video artworks. I will set fire to your galleries and museums. I will burn your short and shaky history of art. I will scorch your fake artistry. I am the fire the fire the fire…

 

***

  • facebook-square
  • YouTube Black Square
  • insta

Translation: Baruch Gefen