This interview, conducted in April 2015, was originally published in the Artis Journal blog, a series of essays and artist interviews exploring artistic practice and timely topics in contemporary art from Israel. The Artis Journal blog was active from 2015-2016.
On an unexpectedly rainy day in April, Artis staff visited artist Nevet Yitzhak in her studio in South Tel Aviv to speak about her work and upcoming projects. Yitzhak, who works mainly in video and installation, has been busy preparing for her first exhibition in New York at Yossi Milo Gallery, set to open in May 2015, and a newly commissioned work for MoCA Cleveland that will open in the fall of 2015.
How would you characterize your work? What are the subjects you keep coming back to?
I work mostly in video, mainly video installations, in which sound plays an important role. My works are always based on existing materials or content. I think many would characterize my practice as a dual process of deconstruction and construction using found material. Research is typically the basis for my projects. Through research, I come across ideas or objects that become the center of a work. I deconstruct the material and then reconstruct it to create alternative narratives through video and sound – narratives that perhaps give a different interpretation to common beliefs or understanding of certain historical ideas or references. The themes are often very general but my work also relates to personal memory. For example, the place I come from – in a home where Arabic was spoken, or Arabic music was listened to – and the unwritten history of the Jews who immigrated from Arabic countries. My curiosity has lead me to explore, and even suggest, a narrative for the history of Arabic Jews. Although much has been written about this community, there is much left untold and many questions remain unanswered – a lot of mythology. This is where the subjects of my work come from, a world which is trying to understand history and the connection to a place.
What is the role of research in your work? Would you define it as an integral part of the work?
My starting point for every project is research. I often depart from a text – whether it’s from a book, an essay, or a random piece of writing that triggered my thoughts. The research process always involves a lot of “digging” through archives and the internet. Then I collect visual references that often appear in the work.
Can you share with us some information about your upcoming projects?
First and foremost, right now, I am focusing on the production of my upcoming show at Yossi Milo Gallery. The show will be composed of two parts. In one room, there will be an installation based on Afghan war rugs, a work that was presented at Noga Gallery of Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv this past summer, and then during Art Basel Miami Beach last December. In the gallery’s other room, I will show several works from Orient Express, which I presented at the Museum of Islam in Jerusalem in 2014. The show was based on pieces in the museum’s collection. I am still in the early stages of research for a new work for MoCA Cleveland . It will open in September 2015 and is curated by Artis trip alumna Rose Bouthillier. This work will be based on archival material I will collect from public archives in Cleveland.