Tel Aviv: From the seafoam and clouds to the here and now

Providence College Galleries, 2019

Shay Zilberman employs the art of  layering to showcase a kind of urban alchemy cultivated by artists, architects and broader society. His every artwork meticulously pieces together carefully sourced mid-century magazine pages and layers of paper, parchment and pigment. Alternating between collages made of historical imagery and unique prints composed of color blocking, his overall oeuvre represents the ways in which individual and collective memories of places differ from reality. Using making techniques that are as precise as they are intuitive, Zilberman becomes a kind of imagistic storyteller, documenting and speculating on the built environment’s promise and failure to improve its users’ quality of life.

For Tel Aviv: From the seafoam and clouds to the here and now, the artist created works on paper that manifest connections between the past and present states of Tel Aviv’s International Style buildings. Whether with collage or chine-collé print, the multiple layers and juxtapositions of his compositions poetically synthesize the imagined histories of the White City with the diverse realities of Tel Aviv today. Many of the building parts pictured in the collages and prints were documented in the 1930s. Today, they usually look completely different because of neglect, the damage that comes with time, or the alterations made in service to later additions and decorative features. The fantastical towers shown in Untitled (Postcards from Tel Aviv) all at once conjure the utopic yet unrealistic ideals of Bauhaus design. They most directly reference the various towers that spring up all over tel Aviv on a regular basis. Zilberman’s re-imagined buildings  gussy up archival photographs not to preserve them, but to instead highlight societies’ strangely constant re-creation of the tower of Babel. With this, he consciously brings together the multi-culturalism of biblical Babylon and contemporary Tel Aviv with the socialist values that informed the International Style and the capitalist real estate interests that currently profit off the White City narrative to power the tower projects of today.

Curator: Jamilee Lacy and Dr. Revital Michali

Participating artists: David Adika, Ronny Carny, Yael Efrati, Hilla Toony Navok