The Jerusalem Post
‘Out of Style’
Sculptor Anita Birkenfeld clothes the void in Jaffa exhibit
Anita Birkenfeld’s sculptures hold contradictions effortlessly. They are complex simplicity; empty wholeness; clothed nothingness; absent presence. Born in Poland in 1955, she emigrated to Israel shortly thereafter and eventually graduated from Tel Aviv University. Anita met fashion designer Maya Nagari when buying clothes for her son’s wedding, and ended up working with the designer. Their relationship inspired Anita to think about the ties between art and fashion, as well as clothing and body. Anita’s newest sculpture exhibition, Out of Style, is currently on display at Hangar 2 in Tel Aviv’s Jaffa Port until October 17.
Can you talk about your journey as an artist?
It happened because of the death of my daughter 11 years ago. I began to work from inside myself with the feelings I had. I didn’t know that I had all of this inside of me. My daughter lives on in my work. She is happy today; she is proud of me. I also started working with a clothing designer, which influenced this exhibition a lot. The spirit for the pieces from this show were inspired by clothing design. A lot of the pieces are clothing.
I read that you like to create while isolated in your studio. Is this true?
Yes, but I also like to create with a group! I like people very much. I started working with a group and am still creating with them. Being around others is inspiring.
Can you talk more about your creative process?
I work mostly with clay, bronze, aluminum, polyester, concrete and plaster. Depending on which material I’m working with and what I want the final product to be, I go to the studio and fine-tune the work. I’m working more with clay than anything else, and plaster is a new form of expression for me. When I finish a piece out of clay, it goes into the kiln into 1,120 degree heat. Then I can decide how I will finish it with plaster or bronze or whatever.
How long does one piece usually take you?
It depends. Sometime it takes a few months, and sometimes it’s done overnight. It also depends on my energy level! I like to be spontaneous, and decide sometime on the spot what I’m going to do.
Your new show, ‘Out of Style,’ opened on October 8. The sculptures center around the link between art and fashion. Can you talk about that?
Yes because I worked with a clothing designer, who is very talented. I took a lot of inspiration from her. In the past, I made two ladies with their arms in the back. But they stayed at home with me. For this exhibition, I decided to do something with them. They ended up being my favorite two pieces of work in the exhibition. But I love all of the sculptures! There are 80 total in this exhibition.
A lot of your pieces carry this tension between empty garments with no bodies. Why is that?
Because of the death of my daughter; this is the reason they are empty. The emptiness is my life without her. The clothes represent what we put on to keep moving and go on with life, and go ahead.
What’s next for you?
I started a new project about refugees, without knowing how big this crisis would be with the Syrian refugees. But I feel that they are very lost people, and my heart is with them. So I created some pieces on this topic. It’s mixed media made from plaster. I want to continue with the work on this subject.
Do you ever listen to music while you’re creating?
Always! I listen to classical and jazz while I work, and that is also what we are playing during the exhibition. Without music, I can not breathe. My favorite is Mozart.