David Wakstein: A Multiparticipant Show
A solo exhibition that is at the same time a group show, perhaps even a mass show. Behind it are countless hands, and it brings together years of work. It raises questions about art and education; art and community; the figure of the artist as educator; collective creations and the artist’s ego. It offers group organization as a possibility, as a tactic, and as an ideology.
It is an exhibition in the making. Once it opens to the general public, the gallery’s appearance will gradually change as it fills up with the mosaic works that will be produced over the months ahead by David Wakstein in collaboration with groups of his former students, friends, and colleagues, as well as museum visitors. In October, at the closing of the exhibition, the gallery will look different.
The exhibition is an expression of Wakstein’s artistic-educational-community activity as it evolved over the decades, since his graduation from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in the late 1970s and his establishment of the Yavne art workshop. For him, teaching art has become an artistic language — and in fact, an artistic act in its own right. In 1997, he first arrived at the Community Center in Ofakim, and since then has traveled to various places around the country (Nazareth, Ramla, Rahat) like a traveling art agent, running art activities with youth in collaboration with college art students. Since the 1990s, his community work has coalesced around mosaic-making, a medium that invites teamwork and also raises fundamental issues of art-making: personal stamp versus anonymous production, individuality versus collaborative work.
The museum’s exhibition features mosaic works of two main themes in Wakstein’s collaborative work: a decorative plant theme, originating from a sixteenth-century Turkish tile, and the names of those who have worked with him — children, adolescents, and college art students.
One wall in the gallery is covered with about one hundred mosaic squares, produced from 2005 to 2021 by Wakstein and his students. Facing it, two blank walls are waiting to be filled with mosaics during the exhibition run. Outside the gallery, on another wall, will feature first names spelled out in small mosaic tiles, in some instances with the addition of a family name, parents’ names, and place of residence. The assembly of names — in Hebrew, English, and Arabic — on one wall naturally sparks associations ranging from memorial walls to archaeological remains, and in the context of art, inevitably, also the notion of an artist’s signature.
Inspired by the Wall of Names, other children, families, and museum visitors are invited to create works with their own names and take part in the exhibition process. The opening of an exhibition usually marks the end of a process. In this case, however, it marks the start of a complex creative process involving hundreds of additional people.
Supported by the British Friends of the Art Museums of Israel