It is not every day that one goes to an exhibition and is fascinated by what holds the works to the walls, or even worry whether it’ll hold up, especially when a particular porcelain teapot is hanging from the ceiling. This begins the web of narratives that Israeli artist and designer David Schocken holds so dearly together with magnets for his debut solo in India, titled “Heritage”.
At his exhibition in the basement gallery of Instituto Cervantes, we walk under a precariously placed teapot, attached to a web of cables stuck to the iron pipes on the ceiling. “It was bought from England by my family and I inherited it. When I put hot water in it, it immediately cracked. It was so delicate and expensive, but I decided to use it for this series. From down here, it depicts a moment of fragility and you want to ask what the value of heritage is,” says Schocken.
This exhibition underlines the temporary nature of heritage and the magnets play their part to enhance that experience. “Magnets are so natural, so organic. They create no tension and leave no marks on the wall. When I leave, I will leave no trace behind. The magnets symbolise heritage,” he says. And what if the gallery was made of wood? The 35-year-old looks bewildered at the question and jokes, “Maybe I should’ve named my exhibition that.”
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Every article, which he has created or collected over the last four years, displays a sense of deja vu. It’s seen in thin iron rods placed together in a square with glowing “Home” in a digital handset, a gas cylinder caged in tiny iron rods, a set of SIM cards, a numberless clock dial rotating with a plane attached to its hand. There is an oxidised tin can that the Tel Aviv-based artist found among many others on a small piece of land back home a few years ago. Each had embossed inscriptions that revealed that the tins were left behind by Australian soldiers during World War I.
Born in Jerusalem, the idea of heritage and home is innate. His great-grandfather migrated from Germany to Israel in 1933, before the war. “Way before I was born, Israel didn’t even exist. So, what is home? What is heritage?” he asks.
After a brief stint in the army and opening a controversial bar which “sold food, not kosher”, he graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven (The Netherlands) and Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (Israel). Schocken has worked in Holland, Belgium, China and New York, with a brief stint in
Shantiniken in India, working with Bauls. Now a partner for Schocken+, a branding and strategy consultancy firm, the artist swears by “responsible art”.
‘Heritage’ is being presented by Instituto Cervantes and Embassy of Israel, and is on at Instituto Cervantes, Hanuman Road, till June 30. Contact: 43681900