Freshpaint Art Fair Tel-Aviv (2021)
After discovering the archeological site of Hammat Tiberias in Israel, vandalized in 2012, I became extremely interested in the mosaic floor of a 4th-century synagogue featuring a pagan zodiac wheel alongside traditional images of a Torah ark and menorahs.
Later on, I discovered that a similar mosaic also exists in Bet Alpha.
In 2021 I expanded my knowledge of divination systems by taking Harvard's University Sociology course in Prediction systems [PredictionX], analysing predictions from ancient rituals to contemporary data analysis and software.
I realized the zodiac (a non-random predictive system) is also a very ancient identity system, and an unusual one in its kind. First of all, its concept spans across cultures: it originated with Babylonian astrology, found roots in Egyptian mythology, spread throughout the Roman empire, but has parallels in the Indian, Chinese as well as native-American worlds. Therefore, the instinct of finding the macrocosm in the microcosm and vice versa seems universal. As a (former) anthropologist, I am extremely attracted to human needs and tendencies that form a common denominator beyond culture.
In these identity systems, humans and animals (or even objects!) mix in a horizontal, non-hierarchical manner, which I find enlightening: humans placing themselves within nature, rather than above it, aligning their destinies (or fortunes, as the word ‘mazal’ in Hebrew suggests) with stars and non-human creatures. A humanity within nature and not above, nor underneath.
Today, the zodiac has become a staple of popular culture almost anachronistically, despite being an ancient divination system.
I decided to couple such popular ‘horizontal’ identity system with another cultural object that is common to almost every culture and history, and therefore also somewhat universal: the carpet as an object.
From Russia to Palestine, from Iran to Uruguay, carpets have been a staple of a country’s visual DNA, or of its time, or even religious symbols (like in Islam).
Following a XVIIth century Persian tradition of weaving astrological rugs, I have painted with oil colors directly on carpets, creating actual oil paintings on fabric.
More than anything, I have chosen IKEA carpets as the ultimate cultural icon of the ‘globalized’ contemporary home. I don't choose the word icon lightly: I see a parallelism between the language of corporations such as IKEA ('vision', 'mission', logos), and religious language.
Transforming the carpets from mass-produced low-cost objects into unique, almost sacred mystical tapestries, and painting on them luxurious designs rich of history, I am reappropriating the cultural meaning and function of the rugs as portals to the hidden, interconnected roots of humanity that act below the surface of contemporary society.