Art In Uncertain Times: Noa Yekutieli and "The Chaos In Order"
“As an artist that cuts paper, I am always amazed at how much reduction can reveal, how strong the absence of space really is," Noa Yekutieli wrote recently when we got in touch with her for our Art in Uncertain Times series. "I think that this pandemic has exposed a very complex and painful reality, nothing that we didn't know before, but all has been pushed to the very extreme." Using various mediums including drawing, photography, and a signature manual paper cutting technique, Yekutieli finds fascination in "exploring the tension between shared human experiences complicated through cross-cultural perspectives." Driven by her personal experience of life between Tel Aviv and Los Angeles, she probes the conflicts surrounding assimilation and immigration that flow today’s global bloodstream, as well as inconsistent narratives from different cultural contexts that occupy a single space, blurring the line between fiction and fact.
During the recent months of shelter in place, the artist found herself cloistered in her LA studio/apartment and started "killing time" by making work that eventually overtook the whole place. Unable to engage in other projects or work anywhere outside her home, the urge to create and express generated from a single photograph of her studio. Eventually, the installation, The Chaos in Order, was created, a composition of hundreds of manual paper-cutting, digital photographs, and cement sculptures. "It began as an emotional clock for me during the lockdown, counting the days, providing meaning, and creating a space for the avalanche of thoughts I was going through while observing this historical moment unfold. I chose to embrace the uncertainty that characterizes these days, both on the personal and the collective level, into the process itself by cutting each piece of paper as a single-pixel, without knowing the overall array of relationships between them. This act has allowed me to gradually break free from the control cables that dominate our lives, which are being revealed these days in their true form; fictitious."
As she was adding work to the walls of her studio, perspectives started to shift and the limited space started opening towards imaginary and existing outdoor places. Once she started working on the ceiling, space underwent a complete transformation, heightening the room’s dimensions and blurring the boundaries between real space and the imaginary one. Sharing how the intuitive process began to reveal her own emotional state, "Slowly, I realized that I have created a pseudo-reality that revealed my longing towards a reality that has passed and is no longer. Since the high pace of work and the endless distractions of our daily life has been subtracted, I feel that many things that are usually hiding what really is happening are now revealed in their fullest. We have all been given this observation time and I think it’s power. There is a collective understanding and awareness of all the problems recognized all at once. So I believe it’s an opportunity for a massive change, that is needed now more than ever. Hopefully, things would shift in November."
"While I work, I dwell on thoughts of historical-political memory, archeology, chaos, organization, and the organization of chaos. Many times I incorporate images of upside-down trees, collapsed ruins, troops, and abstract residue that depict different scenes. Various narratives are contained within a single space, presenting a multi-layered reality, like a tapestry that encompasses different points of tension. The dichotomy between the digital process versus the laborious manual paper cutting technique strikes a tension between two modes of perception, a reflection on a world that became an image of its old self. After a while, I understood that the 360-degree transformation this room went through reflects the massive transformation the world went through. A world where false and real meet at the exact same point with neither being more true than the other as the authenticity of the source and it’s copy become indecipherable.
"It is not new to us that the technological times we live in blur the boundaries between substantial and imaginative, between reality and simulation but this period forces an extreme transition from the physical place to the virtual one and sweeps the questions of stability, human rights, and belonging to a completely different dimension. The basic definition of time and place is being challenged. I think that The Chaos in Order holds an infinity of overlapping realities, a bit like what virtual space does, only I created it in the most physical form, through the material itself, that for me has always been the most objective source.” —Sasha Bogojev