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Herzliya Museum of Art,

Israel, 1986

Essay: Amnon Barzel

Between the phenomenon and its visual representation, one can find all the intermediate stages of the 20th century art styles. The nature of reality, including that which is imagined, the nature of time and place, the tangibility of things – can these be defined in a manner expressing the phenomenon beyond its morphology? Or will the shape of a thing become a symbol, or serve as an information code?
The tentative attempt to bypass the form of things as it is perceived by vision in order to represent their essence – has brought about the definition of new visual languages by the avant-garde artists of the beginning of the century, a fact which was extensively influenced by the shock of photography.
Since then, photography, alongside painting and sculpture, has wandered through various theoretical and perceptual fields, and its inclusion within combined works has assuaged the fears of the disappearance of the aura characterizing the unique creation, as defined by Walter Benjamin.
The working materials of Dorit Feldman are color photography, natural stone, ceramic sculpture and painting. The detailed processing of each of the above components in one integrated creation – come to emphasize the concrete nature of the means she uses. But the result deceives the eye. That which is real turns to be enigmatic. Facts lose their identity.
Inasmuch as the photograph concretizes the form of the object, down to its details, the whole image – symbolizing its identity – vanishes gradually.
Historical abstraction, which abolishes the conventional view for the purpose of representing its sensations and its essence – is replaced here by the intensification of the form up to the point of its disappearance. The desert stone, interwoven by veins and fossilized relics, is integrated into a ceramic sculpture touching the images of waterfalls or the transparency of glass vaults. The rigid stone, hoarding the trauma of erosion, side by side with sharp crystals, turns into sculptures of baroque undulations, and comes close to a painting of a dreaming figure, like a Jungendstil ritual. The eye endeavors to recollect forms and words endeavor to capture the name of an object, but the vision remains undeciphered.
Consequently, the abstraction is attacked not by abolition of the form, but by means of the detailing, the emphasizing of the materiality, and the multiplicity of information.
Without style precedents, Dorit Feldman endeavors to create a sensitive visual situation by a sequence of means and sources, technically and culturally distant from each other: “corrected” natural materials, side by side with the aesthetic of Bernini’s sculptures, and a photographic sequence developed and printed by the artist.
Photographs which do not report, but raise associations of body curves or corals. Her “combined works” painting, illusory by its very definition, holds a paradoxical position among the elements of the work: its images are identifiable and legible while photography – which is basically informative by its essence – is enigmatic. Painted figures gaze at us from the photographed body-cults of Wilhelm von Gloeden in Taormina.
Dorit Feldman’s works are combined, not only in the sense of the materiality and the means, but also in their theoretical contexts: the post-modern, irrational approach is confronted with the sophisticated sanity of the photographic   technology.


Amnon Barzel

Founder, Former Director and Chief Curator, Museo d'Arte Cntemporanea, Prato, Italy


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