The Negev Museum of Art

Zaudito Yosef Seri: Flakes of Charcoal. April 5 - June 24 2017

Charcoal has been used as an artistic material for thousands of years throughout human history, stretching back to the cave-paintings, and artists still use it in their drawings. In different forms of processing, it is part of sculptures and installations by contemporary artists. Yet the way that Zaudito Yosef Seri (b. 1983) uses this material is unique to her and in her works, charcoal is simultaneously the medium, the subject, and the image.

The artist’s chosen material is wood charcoal - a coarse material without artistic lineage – chiefly used in Israel for grilling food on barbecues. She crushes and grinds it in ‘kitchen work’, then recombines the particles to form delicate, pierced surfaces like black lace. The material’s affinity with an ancient element - fire – and with the most fundamental need – food – together with its fragile, crumbling nature, enriches it with profound meanings for the artist, who chose it to express her identity and the erased memories of her childhood.

Zaudito Yosef Seri discovered charcoal while studying art at Sapir College, when she explored the concept of home and memories from home. In the neighbourhood of Ethiopian immigrants in Sderot, near the college, Ethiopian-born Zaudito came across aromas evoking her childhood home; the odour of charcoal in a campfire, the scent of roasting coffee, Ethiopian bread, and distinctive foods. At the same time she discovered the special quality of the sense of smell, which preserves primary memories that are lost over time. Zaudito immigrated to Israel in 1991 and, she maintains, remembers nothing about her country of birth. It is only from stories that she knows about life in Ethiopia and her family’s harrowing two-year journey to Israel. The awakening of her sensory memory through those aromas was a turning-point that led her to adopt charcoal as a material she strongly associates with.

Scraps of personal memory take shape in the work Monument as if they were physical organs in a laboratory glass jar, while the title refers to large sculptures constructed to represent events deserving commemoration. Declaration of Independence recalls the egalitarian utopia cited in Israel’s constituting document, overshadowed by the reality experienced by various populations in Israel. Issues of gender equality - primarily attitudes to woman’s body as recruited to national and social goals - are alluded to in Womb Cluster. Charcoal’s blackness also arouses associations in several spheres. Beyond all these, the exhibition presents art whose unique language constantly shifts between painting and relief, between abstract and tangible, between fragility and strength, between the material and the spaces surrounding and within it, between black and white, and between the visible and the imagined.


Zaudito Yosef Seri was brought up in Ashdod, graduated in art studies in 2014, and now lives in Ramat Gan. She has participated in several group exhibitions, and this is her first solo exhibition. We thank her for the loan of the works.


Curator: Dr Dalia Manor






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