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Vogue Italia | Venice Biennale 2017: interview with Gal Weinstein

May 11, 2017

Gal Weinstein expounds on his developing vision in an exclusive interview

Acclaimed artist Gal Weinstein, known for works that critically address Israeli politics, represents Israel at 2017 Venice Biennale with an exhibition titled Sun Stand Still. The immense site-specific work was designed by the architect Zev Rechter in the spirit of the Bauhaus, inaugurated at the Venice Biennale in 1952.

Rechter was the first Israeli architect to use the language of universal modernism in pre-state and post independent Israel. The International Style of modernist architecture, imported to Israel by European Jewish architects, was highly compatible with the simple, functional philosophy of this period in Israeli history. The streamlined aesthetics of straight, unornamented lines fit perfectly with the vision of a Zionist utopia and the socialist ideals of that time. The Israeli pavilion in Venice will include new site-specific artworks that represent “the evolution” of Gal’s recent body of work. He expounds on his developing vision in the following interview.

What inspires you?

“I find inspiration in iconic images, I choose them because they have already lost their concrete experience and we experience them as a nostalgic memory, I like to recreate the physically to allow you to feel them again. I’m also inspired by carpet shops, routine life, humor and everyday materials.”

In creating and executing the Israeli Pavilion did the architecture and space inform your final presentation? (I.E. designed by the architect Zev Rechter in the spirit of the Bauhaus and of the international style inaugurated at the Venice Biennale in 1952.)

“Yes, especially the international style (the Bauhaus) as an icon of the early Israeli Past. Usually when you see a Bauhaus building in Tel-Aviv they are eroded and show signs of the time past. Seeing the Israeli Pavilion representing Israel today is like seeing an old passport photo, and wondering why people don’t recognize you in it.”

What do you hope visitor walk away with after visiting your work at the Israeli Pavilion?

“I hope they will want to touch the walls around them more, have a different approach to look at expressions of time. I really hope that if they come back in four years and see the building looking fresh and clean again that they will have a memory of the pavilion in the desolate state created for this exhibition.”

How long did it take you to execute the work?

“It took two months of planning, six months of producing the work in Israel and one month to install it in Venice. This does not include the time working on the proposal which I have on for a long time before that. My main concern was with the actual production and making sure that the work has a tactile and physical experience and not look like a theatrical stage. Working with concrete materials is very different from working on modeling plans in Photoshop.”

Do you see the work carrying on to another venue, museum and/or is the site specific?

“The work was created as site-specific, but part of my work ethic is re-using site specific installations in later works. Several times in the past I’ve created projects based on the restriction of re-using the pieces or the same materials. After this installation I have some new ideas to new works.”

Can you discuss the unique materials choices that you are using and their relationship to your practice and the “Sun Stand Still” project?

“I think that the materials that I use are the expression of a lack of options to actually stop time. The materials I choose are ever-changing by oxidization (rust and mold) and in some way I think the project deals with the lack of ability to stop time even though that is the main idea of the show.”

What would you say to a young artist of today? (I.E. advice or words)

“Try to be really, really interested in what you are doing. Be curious about what you do so that you can spend time doing it. Also try to come to your work without so many opinions.”

Anything else you wish to share as a final end-point?

“I worked with an amazing team, and I couldn’t have realized this project without the people who helped me create it physically and mentally. I want to thank my team from the bottom of my heart.”

By Rachel Vancelette