If Closets Could Talk, 2017-2019, Lotem Artzi
Updated: Mar 25, 2021
Photos: Hadar Sifan
Fabric, sewing thread, Acrilan
Lotem Artzi, b. 1990
“My work transforms gender-stereotyped hand tools identified with masculinity into soft, handmade rag items exuding childhood innocence, warmth and domesticity.
About three years ago, I began drawing life-size work tools in my sketchbook, and realized that I wanted to transform them from two-dimensional forms into three-dimensional ones, so that I could touch them and play with them.
The transformation of the tools into rag dolls changes their materiality and purpose, recasting them as non-functional, useless objects rather than useful implements for performing actions that cannot be undertaken by human hands. These cold, rigid work tools that can injure and even serve as weapons thus become soft objects that radiate a sense of warmth and domesticity.
The cloths used to sew the work tools are leftovers from earlier works, curtains from my mother’s childhood home, upholstery from aging sofas, old pajamas – materials that were once functional, and which have been reborn as a non-functional artwork.
Work tools are used to mount exhibitions, yet do not appear in the displays – they are the charmless objects used behind the scenes. I chose to present everyday objects that are almost absent from artistic discourse, to elevate their status and to introduce them into an art exhibition through the front door.
This work has a clearly gendered context, due to the historical charge of the handicrafts represented in the work. Yet these “masculine” tools were sewn using a “female” handicraft, thus unravelling and re-stitching the line between masculinity and femininity, the domestic and the uncanny, high art and craft.”
On display at the Man and His Work Center, Tel Aviv Biennale of Crafts & Design, MUZA – Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv.