Shahar Yahalom

Return to Artist List




Artist Statement

Since living things have two radically different ways of being—alive and dead—I’ve been asking myself, when I see a figure in a sculpture or painting, how do I know if this figure I’m looking at—whether it is sitting on a chair wearing a fox mask/head or lying down with open eyes and bleeding wounds—how do I know if this figure is alive or dead?

Or is it playing dead?

I am trying to create images and compositions that will hold this question, and cast a certain amount of doubt on the aliveness of the represented figures and their relation to one another.

The nature of the medium, being both still and mute, allows for these questions to appear. The works depict situations where power structures and hierarchies are called into question: who is alive and who is dead? Who is the victim and who is the murderer? Who is human and who is animal? I am interested in the aesthetic and formal aspects of these questions, in their graphic appearance, but also in the ethical implications—how these power structures play out in the real world when a powerful/dominant being encounters a mute/powerless one. The figures in my work populate a flexible hierarchy in which positions of power are ambiguous or in flux—situations in which (casual) mute being, such as animals, children, and women don’t necessarily occupy the role of victim.

The first image in my portfolio is a piece called “Hayot”, which is also the name of my most recent show (images 8-17). The word “Hayot” in Hebrew is ambiguous: it means both “animals” and also the present tense of the word “alive” in its feminine, plural conjugation. Both meanings exist simultaneously; women who are alive are animals, or are situated on the boundary between human existence and some other existence.

The images are all drawn from memory, which gives them an archetypal and graphic character. Some are memories of events I physically experienced while others are fragments from a dream or movie, which is the case in the piece “a scalper” (image 5). This drawing refers to one of the closing scenes in the movie “Salo- 120 days of Sodom” by Pierre Paulo Pasolini, in which one prisoner scalps another, the victim becoming the executor. Interestingly enough, our brain does not make any distinction between different types of memories—dreams and lived experiences are stored in the same place.

Sculpture is a type of a memorial—it stands for something that has lost its physical body or never had one: an event, thought, spirit or memory. In my new series of headstone sculptures (image 6-14, 16-17), I cast Hydrocal (a fortified plaster) into molds I make out of branches, clay, wax relief, Styrofoam and woodcuts, which are then fed with black relief ink. These sculptures allow a solid, frozen, architectural form to coexist with a descriptive and distinct figurative relief. The sculpture isn’t just a headstone for an abstracted memory, it is also a memorial of the original mold, which in itself is often very organic and dynamic as a result of the range of techniques and materials involved, but which ultimately must be broken apart completely. The final cast is still and stiff. Like a fossil, it operates as a direct imprint of a long and dynamic process.

The repeated image of the human head and body acts both as a form and as a scale of reference. It invokes the relationship between the viewer or artist’s living body and the “dead body” represented in front of her (image 14). When a living being encounters any physical (aesthetic) residues of death—such as monuments, statues, images, and even texts—this interaction immediately points back to life itsel­f.

The last two images in my portfolio are small photogravure prints. The images offer an overlap between the actual space in which the photo was taken (the shadow from the window, my body, architectural details, etc.) and the space of the drawing (an empty room with a head statue on a table and books on a speaker), an overlap between the space of the living and the space of the dead.



Born, Israel 1980
Live and work in New York


2014       MFA Columbia University – Visual Arts Candidate

2006       B.Ed. Hamidrasha School of visual art, Beit Berl College

Solo Exhibitions

2016       Odile Ouizeman Gallery, Paris (planned)

2015       “Animals” Noga Gallery, Tel Aviv

2012       “Ed”, Noga Gallery, Tel Aviv

2011       “Dry”, Culturescapse festival, Basel, Switzerland

2011       “The Raspberry Land”, Tel Aviv museum, Tel Aviv

2009       “-80 degrees Celsius”, Noga Gallery, Tel Aviv

2007       “Pier”, Noga art gallery, project room, Tel Aviv

Selected Group Exhibitions

2016         Noga Gallery, Tel Aviv (planned)

2016         Void Gallery, Derry, Northern Ireland (planned)

2015         “Partial Presence”, Zabludowicz Collection, London

2015         The Armory Show, New York

2014         “Drawn”, Inside Out Art Museum, Beijing, China

2014         Aran Cravey Gallery, Los Angeles

2014         Columbia MFA graduates show, New York

2014         “Pale fire”, Neiman Gallery, Columbia University, New York

2013         First Year MFA Exhibition, Wallach Gallery, New York

2013         Macro Testaccio Museum, Rome

2012         Rutgers gallery, New Jersey

2012       “The great playwood”, Zommer Art Gallery, Tel Aviv

2010       “Alaska school”, Hamidrasha gallery, Tel Aviv

2010       “Friday”, Hanina gallery, Tel Aviv

2010         The Armory Show, New York

2009       “What does sculpture want?” Bezalel gallery, Tel Aviv

2009       “Lilies”, Herzelia biennale, Herzliya, Israel

2009       “Universal circus”, Art TLV Biennale, Tel Aviv

2009       “The fall”, Beit panorama, Tel Aviv

2008        “D.I.Y”, Herzliya Museum, Herzliya, Israel

2007       “Manoa”, Minshar art Gallery, Tel Aviv

2007      “Haaretz art festival”, Jaffa port, Jaffa, Israel

2007       “Rhythm”, Hulon technology center, Hulon, Israel

2006       “Haaretz” art festival, Riding, Tel Aviv

Prizes & Awards

2012         Young artist prize, ministry of culture, Israel

2006-7       America Israel Cultural Foundation

2006           Excellency scholarship, Beit Berl Collage

Residencies & Fellowships

2014           Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program, NY

2013           A-Z West, Andrea Zittel, Joshua tree

2013           Israel Artists Fund Recipient, Columbia University School of the Arts

Selected bibliography

Styling for the death, Galia Yahav, Ha’aretz, Israel, July 2, 2015

Scalpers & helpless (interview), Hadas Yossifon, Erev Rav internet magazine, June 29, 2015

Creators of the world, Dana Gillerman, Yediot Aharonot, Israel, June 25, 2015

Where the wild things are, Meital Raz, TimeOut Tel Aviv, June 25, 2015

LumiÈre des lumiÈres, de l’aveuglement transcendental, Zaguri Orly Raphael, Le Fresony, 2014

Somewhere to grow, Galia Yahav, Ha’aretz, Sept 10, 2012

Ventilating preemies, Uzi Tzur, Ha’aretz, Sept 3, 2012

Only a dream (interview), Ruth Patir, TimeOut Tel Aviv, Aug 27, 2012

Distructor, Tami Shemesh-Kritz, At Magazine, Israel, May 6, 2011

Two in the Dark, Ellie Armon Azoulay, Ha’aretz, March 3, 2011

Whose cat is it?, Eitan Buganim, TimeOut Tel Aviv, Sep 10, 2009

-80 degrees Celsius, Uzi Tzur, Ha’aretz, Oct 17, 2009