Nomads Land, 2006. Wood and plastic, 200-sq-ft. room, installation detail.

The Topography of Being: A Conversation with Merav Ezer

Merav Ezer is an Israeli artist living and working in New York. Her multi-disciplinary work references the relationship between identity and environment, both natural and created, using a mixture of styles, voices, and media. Ezer describes the dialectic that informs her practice as “inspired by the personal conflict of possessing a nomadic inclination while also desiring stability.” She explores these issues through the topography of our intimate objects and spaces, the “vertical polarity of cellar and attic,” demonstrating the meaning of these spaces and the identities that imbue them with that meaning.

Ezer makes small wooden sculptures of dwellings and large installations suggesting abstracted interiors, often created from light, perishable materials. She appropriates architectural structures to explore the “shells” that surround the body, the home, and the biosphere and to induce a sensation of the familiar—a subverted domestic environment. These works highlight our need for physical permanence and security, our desire for the stability and safety of shelter. But inside one of Ezer’s installations, our nesting instinct finds eloquent opposition from the forces that conspire to keep us moving. Unlike a real home, Ezer’s spaces are frequently mutable, and her choice of material is emblematic of the temporal. She also manipulates the concept of site-specificity, placing pre-existing works within the landscape to create secondary works or removing a sculpture from its site, leaving a hole where it once stood to be photographed as a final piece. Such nomadic work raises issues of decomposition and entropy.
The Abington Art Center in Pennsylvania recently held a solo exhibition of Ezer’s work. “Blueprint,” in collaboration with her husband Adi Shniderman, is on view at PGartventure Gallery in Larchmont, New York, through September 23.

Paul Black: Contemporary artists often lead nomadic lives. How has your own travel informed your working practice?
Merav Ezer: In an age of globalization, when our world becomes smaller, communication and travel become easier, even instant, and the need for travel becomes apparent. There seems to be a need, political, economical, or cultural, for people to move, artists especially. Change allows for learning, new work, and a renewed rhythm. Moving to a new country or a new place has a disquieting effect on me, stirring the creative in me and pushing me to a new way of learning and understanding. The inner, safe, and known open to the new, and these differences always hold unknown surprises. I went through a series of dislocations when I was younger. At 18, I found myself transformed from an urban child into a villager, a farmer. I was living for a year in unfamiliar territory with a group of 20 young men and women. After studying art, I traveled through Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand for two years.

I arrived in New York about five years ago. The city is a microcosm of nations and cultures. For an artist, that climate raises the question of “home.” Does such a thing actually exist? That question became more focused and more precise for me over time.

PB: There is an impersonality in your use of language in relation to the home, a perspective that encompasses both inside and outside and suggests a self-alienating confusion toward the individual’s relationship to intimate space.
ME: Our homes are the places between places, whether within cities or between them. As the culture accelerates, nomadism becomes our natural state; the ease of travel allows us to fulfill this need as artists and to create communities around the globe, especially in major metropolitan areas. Cities are like the eye of the storm. We never come full circle, back to what was our home. Events change so fast that by the time we are “back for tea,” our space has changed, our perception of it has changed, and our consciousness has changed. …see the entire article in the print version of September’s Sculpture magazine.