Assaf Shaham: Taste of the Wild / Spring/Break Art Show Los Angeles 2020

“Taste of the Wild” at Spring/Break Art Show Los Angeles 2020 is an exhibition with works by Assaf Shaham. The show, curated by Seymour Polatin, features three artworks: Misting vitrine #1 (taste of the wild); A rotten year (some eaten, some kept, some thrown); and Untitled (mannequin #3). In this video we speak with Assaf Shaham about the exhibition and his work in general.

Assaf Shaham: Taste of the Wild, curated by Seymour Polatin at Spring/Break Art Show Los Angeles 2020. February 14, 2020.

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Project text:

The work of Assaf Shaham builds complex images that focus on the relationship between fundamental elements of life and their complicated relationship to consumerism, capitalism, and contemporary society. Originally trained in photography, Shaham’s more recent works have exited the two dimensional image into sculptural scenes and directly confront viewers with eerie constructions of CPR mannequins, produce misters, and processed food. Each of the works in this exhibition administer time in a different way, developing uncanny representations of intimacy, diet, and death.

Misting vitrine #1 (taste of the wild) arranges two embracing CPR mannequins in a display case. Every few minutes, a produce mister sprays the mannequins to create an image as if they are kissing in the rain. Since the mannequins are designed to be as true to life as needed for their training purposes, the viewer is forced to mentally separate the portrayed romanticism with the actual fact that these are lifeless objects meant to depict humans. The steady rhythm of the timed mists continuously repeats and builds upon this constructed image.

A rotten year (some eaten, some kept, some thrown) is a collection of 365 processed food products in which each item’s expiration date corresponds with the entire calendar of 2019. In order to produce this piece, Shaham took on the role of consumer, but did not follow traditional consumption patterns of taste, advertising, or cost. Instead, his journeys to the supermarket were focused on the small detail of the expiration date on food packaging, often hidden within the larger design. This process of consumption generated a wide ranging array of foods, packaging, and products that Shaham arranges and organizes through a variety of methods and arrangements, becoming a visual representation of time. In this exhibition, A rotten year (some eaten, some kept, some thrown) is chronologically displayed in its entirety.

Untitled (mannequin #3) is comprised of a CPR mannequin being raised and lowered by a mechanical arm. When it is upright, the eyes are open and when in recline, the eyes shut. This work highlights the particular feature of the representation of the eyes and their often drawn connection to representations of life and death. The mechanical arm produces a habitual detached sound when paired with this life-like mannequin being raised and lowered. The steady rhythm of this work produces hollowed images of life and death that are both recognizable and foreign to the viewer.

Assaf Shaham (born 1983, Tel Aviv) lives and works in Tel Aviv and Los Angeles. Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized by the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art (2017) Yossi Milo Gallery (New York, 2015), Braverman Gallery (Tel Aviv, 2014), and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2012). Select group exhibitions include Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2018), Santa Barbara Center for Art (2018), New Wight Gallery (UCLA, Los Angeles, 2017), The Israel Museum (Jerusalem, 2016), Haifa Museum of Art (2016), Shpilman Institute for Photography (Tel Aviv, 2014), Petach Tikva Museum of Art (2014), Centro Cultural Clavijero (Morlia, 2012), and the Jüdisches Museum (Vienna, 2010). In 2016 Shaham participated in “Maumaus”, an independent study program located in Lisbon, Portugal, and in 2012 he joined the list of artists in residence at the Shir Residency@Berlin. Shaham is also recipient of a number of prizes including the Ministry of Culture and Sport Prize (2017), the Israeli Culture Council for the Arts Grant (2015), the Tel Aviv Museum Constantiner Photography Award for an Israeli Artist (2012), and the Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography (2011). Shaham holds a BFA from the Minshar School of Art and an MFA from the University of Southern California. Shaham’s work has been featured in numerous publications in print and online including the New York Times, The New Yorker, El Pais, and Haaretz.

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