Another month, another fantastic international exhibition at the New Gordon Gallery. We asked Michel Platnic, the electrical-engineer-turned-artist, about his truly specialmultimedia project entitled ‘Genesis.'
Where are you from?
I was born in France, I moved to Israel in 1998 and I have been living mostly in Berlin for the last 3 years.
Is this your first project with Gordon Gallery?
No, I have been working with Gordon Gallery for 4 years already. My last solo exhibition was 3 years ago, just before I left for Berlin.
How did the transition from electrical engineer to artist come to be?
I worked in high-tech as an engineer both in France and Israel. While I loved my job, something was missing. I needed to fully believe in what I was doing, and this was not the case. When I moved to Israel, the idea that I need to live in the present, as fully as I can, became stronger. I wanted to live by the ‘regret nothing’ mentality. I explored many fields almost daily from dancing to acting, performance, and sculpture. The more I studied and explored, the more I was attracted to art. It took me 7 years from the moment I started my journey to the moment I completely stopped working in high-tech, but it was worth it.
Did you find any common threads between the two avocations?
Planning how to construct what was inside my imagination as well as working with people are abilities I rely on nearly everyday when creating my art…these were skills I developed when working in the high-tech industry. Technological tools have enriched my artistic practice and my ability to deconstruct my inspirations so I can convey what they meant, felt and looked like.
What was your inspiration for this new project?
The Genesis of the Bible; how the world was created in 7 days, but mainly how we understand the world as being created from the words and concepts of the Bible. These words affect how we look at our surroundings and impact how we consume the world.
Hence the exhibition title, ‘Genesis’?
Indeed. ‘Genesis’ is the beginning, the source for the ‘people of the book’; it is an important base for the occidental culture.
What questions do you wish to answer with this project?
A lot has to do with the history of my own culture, the occidental culture. Under the name of ‘progress’ we have done so many bad things: we have imposed our culture on many people, thinking that if adopted by everyone, we can instill world peace. We have sold weapons to keep that peace; we have even created wars to keep that peace. Unfortunately even if we are supposed to exist in a postcolonial time, we are still acting and thinking in the same way – the only difference now is that we are trying to be ‘politically correct.’ My question is what are these ideas and concepts that are justifying our acts? Why did we create so many hierarchies, sometimes between cultures or between men and ‘nature’? Is knowledge really the key to our salvation?
You used the term ‘historical consciousness’ in describing your project. Can you define this concept?
Historical consciousness is the way we look at the past. Seeing the world with a past, a present and a future is not obvious. Many cultures lived or live without this ‘consciousness.’ The video work I am currently showing tries to dismantle time to present a sort of ‘time’/‘anti-time’ experience.
Is there a chronological timeline to your four time periods presented within the exhibition?
Yes, actually I started from the present, then went back further and further to look for the roots of our thoughts, or in other words ancient thinkers who wrote ideas that are obvious today, but weren’t always so obvious.
If you could sum your work up in a few comprehensible sentences...
For this project, I built an installation in my studio. I painted it and filmed the process live. All the paintings create an optical illusion for the camera. The whole exhibition illustrates the phases of constructing a painting through photographs and a video diptych.
Is this a typical medium for you?
Yes actually. I have been mixing mediums since I was an art student.
What challenges have you faced or obstacles have you had to overcome during the process?
Well I used to play extreme sports. Today my extreme sport is art. There are limits to what my body and mind can bear. Projects are usually very complicated and intense. At the end of each project, I say that I will never do that again, and the next time I do something even more intense. During the last hours of filming, I nearly gave up after the electrical board exploded. Then the air conditioning stopped working and it was August in Israel. I electrocuted myself trying to fix it. Usually, I push my team, but during these very last hours, they pushed me. It was beautiful.
What do you want the viewer to gain from their 'experience'?
Not sure. I guess everyone will have a different experience, more aesthetic and more conceptual. My 15-month-old baby liked the work…a good sign in my opinion.
Any words for aspiring artists?
Dream and act, listen only to your intuition.
Anything else you'd like to add?
The questions that come to people are the most interesting part for me. Making a work in my studio is sometimes lonely. The idea develops in my head, on sketches, in 3D models, but it really comes to completion when it reaches the population. I am giving two gallery talks, one on May 5th in Hebrew and one on May 19th in French. I am aiming to add one in English. Come see the exhibition for yourself. Explore, experience, interpret, ask questions.
Genesis opens at the Gordon Gallery, 6 Hapelech St, in Jaffa on April 27.