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LES exhibition explores relationship of people with the natural world

The artists at a preview of the exhibition. L-R: Nitzotz Saranga, Natalie Feldesman, Ariel Lavian, Maayan Fima, Anaelle AA, and Adi Farber. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

An exhibition showing for one week on the Lower East Side uses natural resources to examine the ever-changing environment, including humans’ impact as polluters and consumers.

The show is called “Materialness,” and will be at the Parasol Projects Gallery at 213 Bowery, at Rivington Street, from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3. It’s presented by the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, and features artworks by lecturers, graduates and students from various departments of the college, which was founded in 1906 and has over 2,500 students.

“The exhibition is about material, how it affects us and the environment,” said artist Ariel Lavian, who also curated the show, at a preview the day before its opening.

One of Lavian’s projects is “Plastitution,” where he took plastics found on a beach near Tel Aviv and used them to create objects related to the sea. Lavian said more plastics are accumulating at the beach, but more people are also speaking out about it and trying to address the problem, which he hoped would continue.

An object from “Plastitution,” by Ariel Lavian. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

Another project is “Obsessidian,” by Nitzotz Saranga, which stems from the artist’s stated obsession with different types of volcanic rocks. Saranga said she researched volcanic rocks as raw material, and melted and ground down rocks, then molded them onto other rocks.

Molded rocks in “Obsessidian,” by Nitzotz Saranga. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

“I was really fascinated by the rocks I saw,” Saranga said. “I made something unnatural using natural materials.”

Also in the show is a five-and-a-half-minute video by Natalie Feldesman, which is a collage of nature videos, distorted into abstract and surreal images. The video explores ideas of information overload and man’s relationship with the natural world.

An image from Natalie Feldesman’s video collage. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

Feldesman said she wanted to “take man’s gaze of the planet and destroy it, into a beautiful chaos.” Feldesman said she wanted the colors to be hyper-real, “something that you dive into.”

“Toxtiles” is another project in the show by Ariel Lavian, and explores the environmental damage caused by the fashion industry. Lavian created a series of stools made of textiles and iron, using discarded fabrics collected by Lavian from fashion houses and sewing workshops. “It speaks to the other side of the story,” Lavian said of the project.

Objects from “Toxtiles,” by Ariel Lavian, which uses discarded materials to explore the fashion industry’s damage to the environment. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

More information on the “Materialness” exhibition can be found at www.bezalelfriends.org and parasolprojects.com/projects/friends-of-bezalel.

Gabe Herman