> PHENOMENOLOGICAL ARCHITECTURE IN THE INSTALLATIONS OF NADAV WEISSMAN (excerpt) Hebrew version >


In Weissman’s work, “Winds”, the artist built the frame of a house out of bones, in an olive grove in Ein Hod. This work is also an icon of a real house, and perhaps even a universal symbol of a house - four walls and a triangular roof. The ever so familiar symbol from children’s drawings undergoes defamiliarization to turn into a ghost house, with no walls, whose inhabitants are present absentees. In the choice of bones as building materials, the house takes on human traits, and as such, it is mortal. The viewer enters the work; it surrounds him, but denies him the basic function of the house - shelter and concealment.

The work was shown as part of the group exhibition, “On the Spot”. One cannot ignore the political meanings of the specific place in which it takes place—an olive grove in Ein Hod (an Israeli artist colony established in 1953 on the ruins of an Arab village abandoned in the 1948 war). Weissman brings these meanings to the surface through the material he uses. The bones symbolize the life that was uprooted as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the lives of people and of places, of olive trees - symbols of peace - that were torn up brutally by the aggressive act of occupation. In the terms of visual art, this hunted house is site specific. But if we wish to translate this principle to architectonical terms, we might say that Weissman’s house is built according to Kenneth Frampton’s principles of Critical Regionalism - it grows out of the place, it is exclusive to the place, it is done by hand, and the visitor who enters undergoes a phenomenological experience - a tectonic, bodily, sensory experience that is not exclusive to the visual medium.

Perhaps Weissman is calling here for that same “Dwelling” that Heidegger spoke about - the desire to return to a deep-rooted place, connected to the earth. But it should be remembered that, in contrast to the naïve and optimistic aspirations of phenomenological architecture, the work still carries the artist’s unique signature - defamiliarization, threat, alienation. The ambiguous meaning of the title of the work, meaning both “winds” and “ghosts” in Hebrew, testifies to man’s vulnerability to natural and supernatural forces, even within his own home. Perhaps the material-phenomenological aspect of the work tries to answer the basic human need that is generated as a result of the existentialist recognition of the absurdity of the world.


-- Keren Goldberg



Back >