TAMARA MASEL: APPEARANCE
In Articles | Photography19 April 2012
P P E A R A N C E, Tamara Masel’s exhibition of photography, perceives ephemeral events which may never have occurred, but that nonetheless seem to linger. A diptych of lighted candles and empty candlesticks and a ghostly hand on an electric kettle contend what is still considered photography’s essential task: to represent reality. A photograph is expected, so the cliché goes, to be worth a thousand words, a concept impossible to champion with the current inflation of manipulated images.
Born Argentina in1965, Masel immigrated to Israel in 1972. After graduating from Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem in the early nineties, she exhibited extensively. Since then, she has all but vanished from the public eye, until this powerful mid-career retrospective.
Much of Masel’s work addresses feminist issues as implicit content or subtext. The female figure is represented solely in fragments (alluding to pornography) and sometimes merely as fleeting shadows.
Golden Shoes No. 3 of 2009 depicts fetishistic stiletto sandals. High heels have been in the battleground of sexual politics since the 70′s and the term ”Stiletto Feminism” was coined in the wake of Sex and the City. Masel depicts stiletto heels, venerated and estranged as they are, with the same dispassionate air of electric kitchen appliances in her other recent work.
The appliances are simple, far from the state-of-the-art designs, sold at cookware specialty shops. Designed appliances evolved, to a great extent, after cooking in some circles became a male hobby rather than a female “duty.” Toaster Oven (Le Chef), 2007-2011, Mixer (Patissier), 2006-2011 and Electric Kettle (Kennedy) No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 of 2007 look like “portraits” of appliances but ensconce motion. Traces of the toaster door opening, the mixer beater turning and a ghost hand picking up the cordless kettle, imply the presence of a laborer whose toil remains unacknowledged.
Pipes on White Table of 2009 depicts two classically male objects. Is this Freud’s pipe? Or perhaps the image Magritte created and undermined by writing “This is not a pipe”? The name of Magritte’s famous 1929 painting The Treachery of Images (La trahison des images) could well be appropriated to Masel’s intriguing body of work.
Tamara Masel: Appearance, curated by Naama Haikin, The Open Museum of Photography, Tel-Hai Industrial Park, Israel, September 24, 2011 through March 4, 2012
Writing Credits: Smadar Sheffi is a writer, art critic and art historian, and currently a doctoral candidate at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She publishes regularly in HAARETZ newspaper and has a weekly art program on public radio. Since 2008, Smeffi has won scholarships and awards from The Lafer Center for Women and Gender Studies, The Center for Austrian Studies, and The European Forum at Hebrew University. She has curated exhibitions, mainly of Israeli contemporary art, and lectured and taken part in numerous panels and symposia on art and culture in Israel and Europe.
<< Previous Article Next Article >>