Shoshana Wayne Gallery is pleased to announce It Ain’t Necessarily Soft, Gil Yefman’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of performances and walkthroughs, including a conversation between Gil Yefman and Norman Kleeblatt, former chief curator of the Jewish Museum (New York, NY), on August 10.
In his debut solo exhibition at Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Yefman exhibits sculptural and two-dimensional installations created over the past decade. Yefman’s practice explores a unique artistic language defined by brightly colored knitted sculptures of grotesque, fluid, multi-organ beings.
The knitted work becomes an extension of the body, and felting becomes a memorialization of the experiences held within that body. Though knitting and felting are commonly associated with female, queer, and domestic tasks that would traditionally fall into a strictly decorative category, Yefman redefines them into works that honor a memory within the individual to provide a sense of justice and new presence in the world. These soft objects that were once read as defense mechanisms representing a vulnerable or threatened body are transformed into a new relationship with social injustices.
In Yefman’s work, there is a constant state of transformation – of an interdependence between history, memory, and imagination – which contributes to the remission of personal and social hurt. At the center of this investigation into transformation is Tumtum (2013), a crocheted sculpture which hangs from the gallery’s ceiling. The work’s title originates from a pre-medical biblical term used to describe the gender of an individual with ambiguous genitalia. However, in modern Hebrew the term is a common curse referring to stupidity. Yefman’s sculpture investigates the evolution of the term, positing that the contemporary meaning may be the result of political agendas of separation and control, coding non-binary forms of identity as transgressive. Throughout It Ain’t Necessarily Soft, Tumtum will be activated by artist performances.
It Ain’t Necessarily Soft draws attention to the relationship between fiber arts and language by emphasizing the textual and narrative sources embedded in Gil Yefman’s artistic objects. The words “text” and “texture,” which share the same root, emphasize the crossing and interweaving of personal, mythological, historical, and political narratives in his work. Identities dissolve and reappear in constant flux, from the particular to the universal. Yefman’s work points to the continued existence of identities that have been ‘othered’ throughout history, connecting echoes of the past to today’s political landscape.
The uncanny, and even romantic, nature of the nostalgia exemplified in Yefman’s work is both familiar and strange, standing in contrast to human nature. It Ain’t Necessarily Soft presents a body of work both grounded in history and looking forward. It demands a new relationship to difficult realities of the past, and requires that something beautiful must be made from that pain.
Gil Yefman (b. 1979) lives and works in Tel Aviv. He earned his BFA at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem, Israel and was a recipient of a two-year fellowship from Alma College for Hebrew Culture Studies, Tel Aviv, Israel. Yefman was the 2017 recipient of the Rappaport Prize for a young Israeli artist, and has completed residencies at the ISCP, Brooklyn, NY; Aomori Contemporary Art Center, Japan; and the 18th Street Arts Center, Santa Monica, CA. Recent solo exhibitions include the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2018) and Haifa Museum, Israel (2017-18). Yefman’s work has been included in group shows at the Weatherspoon Museum of Art, Greensboro, NC; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel; The Jewish Museum, New York City; Espace culturel Louis Vuitton, Paris, France; and MOCA Museum, Taipei, Taiwan; among others. His work can be found in the permanent collections of The Jewish Museum, New York, NY; The Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL; The Tel Aviv Museum, Israel; The Herzliya Museum, Israel; Shocken Collection, Tel Aviv, Israel; andBronner Family Collection, Düsseldorf, Germany.