Briefly describe the work you do.
My artistic work is contextual art, a type of art committed to serving mankind. I feel like what I call an “artivist” because I chose to create art and to live in Jerusalem and I think that my artwork offers a sensitive and off-beat perspective on the complexity of what is taking place in this specific part of the world. To realize my artworks, I use various materials (paint(painting), photography, video, collage and mixed techniques) to set up projects such as installations. What concerns me most is to express what I wish for, and techniques are not a constraint for me but ” as many ways to tame reality” in the service of an idea.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
Being the last in a family of four girls, I’ve always been a dreamer child, immersing myself constantly in the imagination to reinvent reality. The product of a double culture – Jewish-Moroccan on my father’s side and French-communist, having adopted Judaism from my mother, I was bathed in a family atmosphere that was both warm and surreal. From there, I did what I could to keep up with traditional schooling but I was always caught up in my dreams. Even though I persisted on a path that was not mine, I was lucky to have been somehow “jolted” by one of my sisters, Deborah (with whom I still work today) and this allowed me to do what I really wanted to do: CREATE!
Then, I went to the School of Fine Arts in Nantes where I acquired a robust formation to the various techniques. I especially learned how to get to the end of a creative process and to follow my own progress under the expert supervision and mentoring of very open minded teachers.
As soon as i finished the Fine Arts School, I decided to settle in Jerusalem to pursue my work on the subject of ” Territoires de Partages * “, which started during my studies. Thanks to these teachings, I developed my artistic practice by using various plastic art mediums (painting, collage, photography, vidéo…) but it’s essentially immersion in a new environment that was the source of creativity as shown by the works grouped under the title Shambles (Capharnaüm).
More recently, I had an experience as an artist in residence at NARS in New York, which was also very stimulating by the presence of other artists from various countries and meetings with actors of the world of the contemporary art. To show my work encouraged me to pursue my personal progress.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
My studio is where I draw my materials, where my ideas occur, the streets where I walk with my camera, the traces of exchanges I film between moving walls; whether I find myself in Jerusalem, New York or in Paris, I assemble what I can find in my path.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
The most difficult when i allow to call myself « an artist » is to think that what one has to express and what takes shape in one’s work may not only interest others but also bring them closer together. As such, I never thought that I could act as a mediator, or even an “agitator” through my artwork in the face of political events.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
The best time is when an idea comes to me! Most often it is true that this happens rather at night, but this is not always the case. Sometimes an idea comes to my mind and a whole series of ideas keep coming. Once I have an idea, there really is no preferential moment to realize it and usually I cannot stop until the work is fully accomplished, sometimes to the point where I lose all sense of time.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
I feel that my work always addresses the same issues, but my techniques have been refined through my artistic research. I am probably bolder with the materials I use and I have also developed some techniques of my own which I continue to explore. As to the substance of my work, it still questions the world around me, the present times, and the notion of “living together”.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
As I explained earlier, I take inspiration from everything around me, the list of people who have had an impact on my work is therefore immense.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
If I had an occupation except that of artist, it would probably be a manual one close enough to the realm of art (fashion, decoration, design …) or a social occupation. Besides, social work is quite similar to my artistic mediation activities between the Israeli and Palestinian people for the Zellige Paris-Jerusalem association and also with disadvantaged young people (Israel, Palestine, France, Brazil …)
The young Franco-Israeli artist Elodie Abergel has been part of the “contextual art” movement for several years, coupling her artistic work with her associative commitment to “Zellige Paris-Jerusalem”, where she is both the founder and coordinator. After her studies in Fine Arts in Nantes, she moved to Jerusalem to pursue her work on what she calls the “Territories of Sharing” (“Territoires de Partages”)*.
Through her artistic vision and works, she has developed the concept of “art of the present moment”, offering up a humanistic yet poetic and critical view of politics in the Middle East. She identifies herself as a committed activist and sees this land as an open workshop. By immersing herself in the heart of the Israeli and Palestinian culture, she has developed an art which is participatory and engaging.
The focal point of her art is the territory she works within, the borders of which house her energy, whether they are visible or not. To convey this focus to her audience, she uses materials found in her surroundings, transforming them through different mediums (photography, installations, video, performance…) as a function of her expression.
In her work, she also focuses on “repetition” to highlight the absurdity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.