Tamar Ettun

Tel Aviv and NYC

Artist's Statement

There is no word like davka in English. The closest synonym would be “deliberately” or “purposefully.” There is no word like “awkward” in Hebrew either, and I see my work lying somewhere between davka and awkward, a purposeful, awkward art that attempts to question and recompose movement with sculpture in the absurdity of the everyday.

By composing objects and movers, I create a sense of what I will call a “handheld history.” I examine the transformation of cultural and psychological narratives through the lens of personal accounts and perspectives, and those perspectives shift purposefully with a visual sense of the awkward, the improvised, the question that is inherent in the notion of the nomadic, as the nomadic is a form of questioning. I create absurd and desperate situations in which the performers and I attempt to accomplish tasks while negotiating the physical presence of our surroundings and each other. My sculptures are made from mundane and discarded materials that I assemble and break to create fragile, evocative forms that relate to the body. 

My work attempts to invert the usual conception of movement and stillness in relation to the ephemeral, I am interested in finding stillness in movement and movement in the still/sculpture and see how they contradict and complement each other. The sculptures embody physical gestures, or have potential for activation by the viewers (such as musical instruments). In the performances, the performers are still or fixed either to the ground or to one another, and there is no development or resolved narrative throughout the performances. Therefore the moving bodies lose their temporality and become lasting, like a moment that happens over and over in time. 

My practice deals with conflict, stress and the desire for balance and movement in everyday life through stretching the physical limits of the body in combination with unanimated materials. 

I grew up among strong religious and political ideologies and figures. My resistance to this environment lead me to making works in which “eye for an eye” would become a glass eye and an avocado turning around on a blue stick. In other words, my response is an opposition to linear punishments and harsh opinions, through an intuitive and imaginary practice of art, while maintaining the necessity in the connections of materials and their ability to balance. Serving in the Israeli army for two years, opened up another set of inquiries on mental instability, trauma and labor, that later became materials to work with in my practice. I am interested in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and specifically in the physical symptoms associated with it, and the related disabilities, which I investigate through fragmented cast body parts. In Yvonne Rainer’s words in her statement for “The mind is a muscle,” talking about the ease of turning off the TV after seeing the Vietnam War: “My body remains the enduring reality”.

I use the system of Jewish religious rituals and transform them into a set of made-up rules, such as walking from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in the opposite direction of a pilgrimage – a “kinetic ritual” I performed once a month for two and a half years. Taking traditional rituals and movements along with post modern dance ideas and gestures, I construct hybrid pieces that reflect on sculptural questions such as gravity, balance and dependency. I am interested in the way in which post modern dance incorporates everyday pedestrian movement, task oriented action, and repetition. In 2013, I founded The Moving Company, a collaboration with dancers and actors who perform repetitive actions based on my sculptures. Bound together, the performers in The Moving Company make minimal but repetitive movements, drawing out time within a score to amplify the unstable nature of human relations and survival.

Artist's Website:  http://www.tamarettun.com/

The Moving Company:   http://themoving.co