'Encoded Craft' Solo Exhibition for Tamara Efrat, Curation, 2023
BY5 Gallery, 31.3-29.4.2023, Bar Yokhai St 5, Tel Aviv.
In this exhibition, Efrat chose to examine how traditional embroidery, once logarithmically encoded and manipulated, may be charged with critical contents and produces meaningful visual variations. The collection displayed refers to ecological entropy, including the extinction of species, the collapse of the local biosphere in different parts of the world, the acidification of seas and the disappearance of corals. This entropy is accelerated by the dualistic approach common in the Western world, which assumes an existential conflict between man and nature. In contrast to prehistoric man, who integrated symbiotically in the biosphere which nourished and fed him, the man of history is on a constant journey to conquer and subjugate nature.
The exhibition contains works related to textile crafts, especially smock embroidery. Tamara Efrat preserves and revives traditional handicrafts with the help of digital technologies of documentation, production and design. She examines processing techniques for organic and synthetic textiles using contemporary tools and codes that give works new qualities and enhance existing attributes (such as structural strength, surface texture, or plasticity). In doing so, she dislocates them of their historical context and their original use and reloads them with relevant social, cultural, and aesthetic meaning. Efrat believes that in a world saturated with industrialized objects, there is a longing for manual, personal work, which treasures within it a story, a point of view and traces of a work process. For this reason, it is of great importance not figuratively to preserve traditional techniques, but to creatively keep them alive by translating them into contemporary constructs and staging a tension between algorithmic processes and manual work.
The narrative structure of the exhibition:
The exhibition presents different stages of ecological processes of collapse and extinction. The first wall, the "living" wall, shows organic processes in all their morphological and colorful glory. With the help of code, Efrat created mathematical patterns that trace natural phenomena and fabricate artificial objects, with body and expression, that reverberate living organisms such as sea creatures, tropical flowers, invertebrates, amoeba and more.
On a perpendicular wall in the exhibition, the "living" bodies lose their formal complexity and their intense colors and become clumsy, lumpy, oversized gray objects. The environmental setup and ecological image of the first wall is replaced by a sculptural setup in which each object strives for autonomy and monumentality and competes with the other.
A third wall, parallel to the “living” wall, displays fossils. These are the same organic creatures, now "embalmed" in time. They offer themselves as archaeological traces of the "Age of Man" (the Anthropocene). The "embalming" is done by dipping different fabrics in liquid clay and burning them in the oven. Another way of "embalming" is a three-dimensional scan of the fabrics and then of the fired ceramics. These actions represent attempts to stop time for a moment in order to contemplate the morbid effect of industrialization and the ongoing death of manual craft.
The last wall features a large embroidery work based on scientific data collected from extreme ecological processes that have occurred around the world in the last century. The numerical data was translated and processed by a number of codes that Efrat developed especially for this purpose, creating a sort of coded bricolage and drawing a field of landmarks that were woven into a single work.
Photos by Dan Perez and Yoav Peled