Art In Uncertain Times: Addam Yekutieli aka Know Hope Reports from Tel Aviv
"When you initially asked, I felt that I was a bit new to the whole Corona reality and my understanding of the experience happened with time," Addam Yekutieli aka Know Hope wrote from his home in Tel Aviv in his report for our Art In Uncertain Times series. "I’m currently just past the two-month mark of staying home. Due to health issues, I started my quarantine a little earlier than others in Israel, and will most likely stay in a while after. I took to this lifestyle very easily, as being an artist I’m used a somewhat semi-solitary day-to-day." We reached out to our friend back in March, but as someone very cautious about expressing feelings, he preferred to ponder the experience before putting it into words.
Through his practice, Yekutieli has often been the channel through which different, often neglected groups could express themselves. Whether speaking with inmates on death row or fellow countrymen about the ongoing conflict in the region, or talking to strangers about traumatic experiences, he always focuses on the bigger picture, as well as the little realities that are commonly overlooked. So, given his nature he’s given a lot of thought to this moment in time. "In my work, I tend to focus on the commonalities that tie us together as humans, the struggles and tribulations that bind, and here we find ourselves in the midst of what seems like ‘the big equalizer’, which to me, is fascinating, philosophically. With this being an unprecedented event taking place on such a universal scale I felt that the right thing to do for me was to process this instead of immediately reacting."
With text being a pervading, key element of his work, he tells the story in his own words:
"From the start, I was baffled about how fast reality was changing, on such a massive scale. The magnitude of what was going on seemed to reveal itself more and more by the hour, and the days seemed like months in terms of the way it was all unraveling and revealing itself on a global scale. The first days were very surreal and worrisome, like a black hole, sucking up all the various facts of life that were inevitably being affected by this happening; speculation and uncertainty were on overdrive.
"I’ve been working from home to some extent. I say it in that way because, like many others, I knew there was going to be a lot of free time that usually isn’t there and, of course, the default (especially as artists), is to take advantage and be productive though something, but that felt off to me. With this being an extraordinary time, literally, I felt I would instead take this time to observe and take it all in.
"This time period has been full of contrasts. On one hand, a calm time at home, while on the other a developing health catastrophe that has brought to light the discrepancy of our governments and other figures that are supposed to function and provide a safety net of sorts. This crisis blatantly showed us that when the time comes these figures ultimately fumble and reveal that the best interest isn’t necessarily taken in mind, and many were left stranded, disillusioned, and to their own devices.
"Simultaneous to the quiet and recuperation that some have experienced, there are those who don’t have the luxury of taking this time for philosophical reflection, whose experience is that of great financial and very real emotional distress, now just focused on survival. The systems that have formed around us, whether they be political or financial are closing in like asphyxiation.
"As a result, a larger sense of solidarity and empathy has arisen, and people have been organizing in reaction, forming their own independent safety net. In what seems to be some sort of paradigm shift, people are re-evaluating things on a personal and collective level. Where do we position ourselves in relation to the larger society? As we contemplate our foundations and priorities, what is crucial and what is not? This all raises thoughts about the importance of community, mutual responsibility, and our collective vulnerabilities.
"Of course, I’ve still been drawing and writing but not as much as I thought I would. I find myself conflicted, trying to decide whether I would like to document my personal thoughts and frustrations that have arisen during the recent period or create images that illustrate the more positive things such as the aforementioned paradigm shift.
"There are other contrasts I’ve noted, like the anger and disappointment as a result of how certain things are being conducted on a governmental level and how this period reveals, once again, the deep the disparity within our society, versus deep faith in others, and the interconnectedness that was revealed and reaffirmed in light of the recent events. I seem to have been focusing on the latter, as I believe in the energy and intention which art makes emanates, and I wanted contribute to that realm during these times, as an emotional opposition or beacon, if you will.
"Over the past two months, my apartment has also turned into a branch of an operation that relates to these exact notions. My girlfriend and a group of other women started a grassroots initiative that has been collecting and delivering food, medicine, and other needed goods all over Israel to elders, refugees, and those who have found themselves in destitution. It started as a small and spontaneous action and has since grown into something that involves hundreds of volunteers and helps thousands of people. This has been inspiring and reaffirming to witness and watch grow, and I’m grateful to have participated in my own humble way.
"Since the notion of time has become so abstract and the future is ambiguous, we’re forced to be in the present and reassess many aspects of our collective and personal conduct. This period has shown how reality can change drastically in a very short amount of time and that so much is out of our control, making this an exercise in letting go. In spite, or maybe because of, the difficulties and distress that these times bring with them, I feel that this is an opportunity to imagine another world, and choose, even in increments, to realize this world through small actions and live cooperatively in relation to others with, of course, art."
Text compiled by Sasha Bogojev