A Wall In The City

The southern wall of Tel Aviv-Jaffa city hall, 2018

commissioned work

Shay Zilberman’s work draws on his private archive. For years, Zilberman has been collecting black and white photographs from old books and journals, cataloging them by themes. From this rich and diverse collection, he picks out images, compiling them in a labor-intensive process of cutting and gluing into new – deceptively harmonious and organic-looking – compositions. The collages presented here are architectural amalgamations of Israeli and international buildings, some of them are easily recognizable and others only look familiar. Among them we can identify a wide range of architectural styles from different eras and places – from Brutalist architecture in Tel Aviv to architecture in Japan.In his work, Zilberman unfolds his perspective on the city by using the perspectives of other artists, most of whom are anonymous photographers. As an alternative to the abundance and surplus of images that dominates our reality, he chooses to work only with images from the printed media. The use of old books and journals that bear the traces of time, invokes a ready-made nostalgic element: the fictitious landscapes Zilberman creates from existing sites evokes a feeling of déjà vu, conjuring up places we have already been to. 

In order to weave the different images into the new piece, Zilberman uses manual technique of cutting and gluing, without the use of computer. He applies another manipulation on the images with discrete drawing interventions. Ink and graphite serve him as tool for erasing or filling in identifying markers in the original image, in order to open more possible options of reading for the viewer. 

The enlargement of the pieces to the size of the wall, underscores the material diversity of the print materials and the handmade nature of the collage. The power relations between nature and the architectural motifs, the strength of one versus the fragility of the other, also come into the fore here. The work wishes to mediate the existing dialogue and amplify the tension created in this encounter. The project A Wall in the City addresses the southern wall on which it is displayed as a physical and mental space. A photo of Tel Aviv City Hall is incorporated in the collage, with deliberate disruptions, together with other sites that will be familiar to local viewers. The wall spreads like an imaginary urban scroll, inviting the viewer to discover it while walking alongside it.