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Africa Israel: The anti-monuments of Naama Arad

Africa Israel: The anti-monuments of Naama Arad

Naama Arad's work uses everyday materials and patterned compositions on a large scale that call upon architectural modernism and a midcentury aesthetic. Currently working toward an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a city known for its mid-twentieth century architectural influences, famously those of Mies Van Der Rohe or László Moholy Nagy who transplanted the Bauhaus aesthetic to Chicago, historical monuments abound. And adding in personal experiences and emotional connections to Israel, Arad's work addresses the contrasts and connections between history, monument and experience.

Just as modernism utilized clarity, clean lines and a grid-like structure, Arad's pieces draw a correlation between robust architecture and monumentalism, and fragile, cheap, everyday utilitarian objects such as Xerox paper, paper clips or staples. By juxtaposing monumental scale, or heavy material like concrete with delicate materials, the artist calls attention to ideas of ephemerality and aesthetic legacies.

I was drawn to the choice of materials and also the way in which the artist utilizes texture and pattern to create a sense of movement and scale, incorporating aesthetics of textiles or weaving. It also allows the viewer to grasp the material quality of the media. For example, by perforating the Xerox paper with a hole-punch, we can see in the punches the individual fibers that constitute the paper, which in turn are taped together to constitute a 'wall,' but a very delicate, unsupportive one. The paper clip screen functions in a similar way, bringing to mind the way it would move if we were to walk through it, disconnected from the floor. Almost anti-architectural, the fragility of shapes and scale that we normally associate with supportive or monumental structures provides significant tension in an exhibition space which is in itself architectural.

More work and information can be found on the artist's website, naamaarad.com.

Waël Seaiby: PLAG

Waël Seaiby: PLAG

Patrick M. Lydon

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