In Materiality Now, Carmel Ilan exhibits a series of photographic prints of her sculptural works, specifically created for this body-of-work. Ilan offers a new interpretation of her unique sculpting technique, in which one-of-a-kind sculptural pieces formed from folded, paper-based materials are woven closely on wooden boards. Found papers, taken from old books, magazines, and encyclopedias, materials which were abandoned and neglected are resurrected in her works.
Ilan examines the relationship between photography and sculpture by questioning how the viewer’s visual experience is altered in the transition from the three-dimensional to the two-dimensional medium. Photography, since its inception in the first half of the nineteenth century, has been linked to sculpture. The documentation of sculptural works was one of the first subjects studied by the medium during the 19th century; photographs of classical sculptures were printed in the first photography book published, The Pencil of Nature, in 1844. Yet, the technological medium did much more than to document and reproduce art works, it bred a new interpretation of the medium, offering a new way of considering the object and its content. Throughout the Modernist and Post-Modern periods the interactions between the two mediums contributed to the examination and re-definition of the field of sculpture.
The method of work developed by Ilan intersected between labor intensive craftsmanship and the employment of ready-made materials, to the use of the most current technology involving the scanning and printing of the sculptural objects. The photographs are not exact reproductions aiming to precisely describe the original objects, in the same way the use of the scanning procedure does not play a secondary role to the physical sculpture. Rather, their roles are of primary significance: to transform the existing object by means of a metamorphosis, through which a hybrid object is created, one which lies in the intersection between the two mediums. The visual experience established by the merging of the two techniques emphasizes Ilan’s complex treatment of her materials: of the paper, the text and the printed letters. The geometric folds and creases are striking against the black and white backgrounds of the photographic prints. The sharp corners of the paper, as well as its crispness are greatly evident in the large-scale prints.
Ilan’s great dedication to her materials grants the forgotten texts with a new-found status, deconstructing the written materials, crumbling all meanings derived from the original text. The paper and the printed letters serve a formal role in this oeuvre, as a repetitive pattern which creates an emotional rhythm within the dense rows of folded paper. The visual experience emanated is overwhelming, enveloping the viewer. The piercing clarity of the materials’ details reflected in the prints enable the viewer to sense the materiality of the objects on an acute level, surpassing the experience of observing the original, physical object.
Hila Cooper, December 2014