Yossi Waxman

Writer, Artist, Designer 

The History of Art, the Fire,
Spirits, and Beasts of the Forest

Ein Hod Gallery, 2013

 

While writing my most recent novel (published by Xargol-Modan) - the story of the recent forest fire on Mt. Carmel, the story of the Ein Hod artists' village, and some biographic elements - I often wondered whether the village was merely a refined or perhaps even a twisted reflection of the collective Israeli (Zionist) endeavor that had and still directly impacts on the lives and works of individuals who reside in this specific and unique location.

 

In 1953, a group of artists, some in their prime and some very young, settled in Ayn Hud, an abandoned Arab village whose inhabitants fled during Israel's War of Independence in 1947. They decided it will be an artists' village and renamed it Ein Hod. It seemed like the natural thing to do in those early days; or was it?

 

All of that had an impact on paintings and digital works I created while writing my novel, often complementing the text. An exhibition was the natural next step.

 

The exhibition, however, is not truly political (though every artistic act is directly or indirectly political), and not because I fear engaging in politics; au contraire. In fact,
I feel I was drawn to it precisely because of the ambivalent nature of the story;
the fragile existence that breeds poignant questions on the one hand, while living
in some kind of peace with them on the other. I wondered: Could nature here be political too? After all, the Mt. Carmel fire did not only consume the forest outside
our village and kill quite a few animals, but also destroyed houses and gardens inside the village.

 

In both my plastic and literary artworks I combine the flora and fauna, the landscape, and The History of Art as represented by Christian images and church scenes - The Crucifix, Jesus Enters Ein Hod, The Messiah's Ass, the animals (wild boars, wolves, and recently - crows), the forest, the scorching easterly winds, and the fire - all have voices and talk in my works.

 

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In my novel, I wrote thus:

 

"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 landscape depictions or realistic portraits - hell, even artistic photographs - are complete lies.
I think I could not have lived without my lies, big or small. Without these lies, I would have killed myself a long time ago…."

 

And

 

"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…."

 

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