Noa Yekutieli uses delicate paper cutouts for her artworks that depict images of destruction, fragments of memory after natural disasters and moments of coping and compassion in the wake of catastrophes. With great excitement sharing with you the following interview with this talented young artist.
Could you please give a short introduction on yourself?
I was born in California in 1989 and moved to Israel as a young child. I live and work in Tel-Aviv. For the past few years I have been conducting an autodidactic research of paper-cutting technique focusing on 2-dimensional pieces in black and white, as well as site-specific installations, which often include readymade objects and a combination of the ready-mades and my paper cut works.
What are you seeking to portray in your artworks, what’s fundamental to your process and philosophy?
I explore the fickle nature of memory through natural disasters which erase an entire physical reality, leaving only memories that gradually blur and dissolve to make room for a newly evolving reality. The disaster, however, is not the subject of my work, but only the frame story whereby I observe the resulting void, the locus whose absence we feel and strive to fill, the place which we miss. The ruined house, which metaphorizes the concept of the empty space, is not only a physical place, but also an emotional one, which carries an entire world of memories and experiences with it, a place whose disappearance elicits the need to reconstruct it completely. I arrived at the all-so-sensitive and volatile subject of natural disasters because there is something about such an extreme event that leads to a concise process of memory construction.
We can’t ever see the whole picture with clarity. Unintentionally, we omit many moments that occurred and are unable to experience the moment and know what preceded it. The memory eliminates almost everything that happens and I believe we need to accept the missing and void. If we had to carry the entire baggage of personal, familial, social, and political memory of our history, we would not have had room to absorb our experiences and develop a subjective point of view on what happens to us. We endeavor to fill the gaps so we do not feel the void, but these gaps form a significant part of our lives. They are present all around us, both physically and mentally, and I believe we must always leave room for that which is absent, that which is missing, and accept it because this is what allows movement and change.
How come paper became your premium medium for your art creations? And what inspires you?
What drew me to the manual paper-cutting technique in the first place is that it was, and still is, like an ongoing research of a very basic thing that creates different “colors”, shades and emotions, like different brushes from only a piece of paper and knife.I initially draw, and then start working with the material in a long process, during which I change too, pieces are slowly cut out of the paper, a texture is created, and a story reveals itself to me.
I think that there’s something very basic in the black and white contrast of the positive material of the black paper and the negative space of what is cut out, I think that life can be described in a very simple level or way although we never really experience it in that way. Mostly we exist in the in-between, in the vague area of a lot of misunderstood moments, mostly the unspoken ones.
Also there is a big matter of ‘time’ and temporariness in this technique, the moment I cut out a piece of paper there is no going back, just like in the daily day life – moments pass and we can never change it or really “glue” it back, there will always be scars.Unlike other art techniques where you usually add material like in drawing, painting and sculpture, in paper cutting it is a process of subtraction, my starting point is a whole paper and slowly I cut out and create holes in the paper, the void, the missing, creates the image and the memories.What I find inspiring is mostly the in-between of things, the gap, the negative space, the void between things both in a physical aspect and an also in the abstract, metaphorical aspect.
Readymade objects are also a big part in my work, where I see them as a very big inspiration point. I think that objects contain memories in the most authentic way so obviously I can’t not involve them in my work, while talking about memories. Sometimes I also combine between the two, and create paper-cut pieces in the readymade objects.
Could you reveal some of the things that go into creating your paper cuts?
I think that in paper-cutting I take in consideration the void, I observe things in a much wider way. I feel that we cannot look and observe specific things only, but we also need to take in consideration all the negative space, the ‘missing’, the void that is around the ‘object’. The unspoken, unheard and unseen as well – all these lead to an instant continuation to the next ‘object’, thing, and moment and to the next moment. The ongoing dialogue between things, everything. The connecting point and the ‘common’ is the void.When I see things this way I find meaning in the process even more then the final object or piece.
People always ask me how long it takes me to make a piece and it always feels so irrelevant because things take time, sometimes less and sometimes more. It’s like asking how long did it take you to think of an idea, to understand something or write a beautiful sentence, the time it took could be a second or more, but where it came from and its process is much longer, larger and interesting.
This is what brought me to work mostly on installations. I find that installation allows reference to the void and the space. I like the connection with the space, with its movement, the need to relate to the limitations of the space and make them an anchor in the work. Moreover, the work in space leaves physical, three-dimensional room for the void too. By imposing limitations on one’s movement in the space, the viewer is forced to heed the nonexistent as well as the existent.I love that in installations I have the ability to create a whole reality for the viewer vs. leaving them in the position of observing ‘others’.
Any upcoming interesting exhibitions, events, new projects you love to share with us?
These days my recent solo exhibition ‘Through the Fog, The Distance’ is shown at the Wilfrid Museum (that is located in Kibutz Ha’zore in Israel). The exhibition will be running until July 2014 so you are more them welcome to visit!
Other than that I have exhibitions planed both in Israel and abroad for the next year, but my next project is definitely my artist book that I will be launching in Tel-Aviv probably in September. I am really excited about it and looking forward to go back to the studio.
To receive updates regarding the book, other projects and exhibitions you are welcome to sign up to the newsletter through my website at: NoaYekutieli.com
The credit of most images go to: Barak Brinker
The credit for ‘Home as a Brittle Surface goes to: Leonid Padrul, © Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv