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We rode atlas

Collaborative project: Yael Atzmony and Gurit Magen

Curator: Yuval Sahar

Exhibited at Artspace Tel-Aviv, 2020

“We Rode Atlas” had a simple beginning: after a decade of friendship and collaboration, two artists – Yael Atzmony and Gurit Magen – whose work is based on exploring material, decide to create boats together. The first creates the boat’s hull, then hands it over to the second who adds the sail and vice versa. Every boat is made of two units by  two artists. Together they become one; so much so that it’s unclear where each piece began nor where one artist’s process ended and the other one’s had begun. 


Atzmony and Magen’s interpretation appears in the text attached to each piece: a big, stiff-necked horse crossing  the river; wind blowing through the sails, glass pouring upon the walls; a house on, a tree on, the water; Lot’s wife is looking ahead; iron balloon, one is red; nana weaving waves for her granddaughter; casting anchor on a stony  puddle, drawing airports; hollow vessels, sand, oxygen, breathing. 


This lyricism manifests itself in the sculpted pieces. Some are immediately recognizable as boats, others gain meaning thanks to context, their proximity to other boats. An undefined, shapeless object may suddenly become a boat, sail, or vehicle, even when standing still. It questions the possibility of location or fixation in one’s consciousness and imagination: much like a boat in water, it shifts, floats, sails, sinks, moves, travels and sways.


Unlike the heavy, static ceramics and metal, a boat is a  container that moves, a transient home, the view from its windows ever-changing. The perpetual motion also manifests itself in the container’s aesthetics: unusual  combinations of materials, colors and textures. There’s an unpolished sensation as if it is not “well done” or “commeil-faut.” The materials are displaced, disconnected. The  flaws, tears and fragments are celebrated, legitimized and  redefine such concepts as beauty and space, sailing and  danger. They carry within them the DNA of the artistic and  creative process, the ready-made’s former life, the hands that created them. 


It is a flawed beauty, whole yet imperfect, that moves away from the machine and toward the wisdom of the hands. Atzmony and Magen take the material to the edge, always  faithful to its honesty and vitality. They create an aesthetic  that simultaneously beckons the spectators to wonder whether they are supposed to understand or instead feel, and pleads them to surrender themselves to the works. All the while, mountains float and boats sail through endless  spaces around them. 


Yuval Saar

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