New York Photo Review
Volume 4 Issue 17 April 17 to 23, 2013

The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino

Magic Realism
Ilit Azoulay
Room #8

Photo by Ilit Azoulay . Source:
Ilit Azoulay, "Room #8, Wall no. 1" 2011.
Visiting the work of Ilit Azoulay at Andrea Meislin Gallery is like stepping out of a grey New York winter into an airy, sun-lit room in Israel. The gallery space has been reconfigured by the artist to spotlight “Room 8,” a 4 panel, 33 foot long, interior panorama that is a modern day cabinet of curiosities and a paean to the art of Photoshop.

Azoulay started Room 8 by photographing an interior wall in a building slated to be demolished. Later she went back to the site to recover items from the wreckage and photograph them in her studio. Installing the photographed objects on the photographed walls, along with objects collected over the years, she then created a near life-size, skillful realized, visually absorbing, totally imaginary wall.

It is hard to see the Magic Realism at first, so well put-together is the overall image. But, unlike some other mega-merge-meisters (eg Andreas Gursky) Azouley has a playful streak that emerges as you begin to look more carefully. A large plate of glass seems to be leaning against the wall, with an old out of focus photographed figure; then, like color holograms hovering in the mid distance, one image of a Duane Hanson sculpture appears in the glass, then a second. Two glass-faced wooden cases are mounted on the wall, each with a different collection of small items, but the cases on closer inspection are the same. Much attention is paid to the extremely realistic shadows cast by each object, but the light sources can vary by 180 degrees. And then you look at collected lengths of twisted wire somehow suspended in front of the wall, which oddly enough produce perfectly straight shadows. There is a roomful (or at least a half roomful) of these playful observations and visual jokes, presented with a knowing eye, that rewards continued viewing.

Photo by Ilit Azoulay . Source:
Ilit Azoulay, Detail from "Room 8" 2011.
The destruction of buildings, and the construction of others (the theme of the three small pieces that are almost hidden in the installation behind “Room 8”) can hardly be a non-controversial subject in Israel. But Azoulay keeps her distance from this, or at least appears to. The work seems to be allusive—there may well be meaning to the choice of the included photographs and objects—but then again maybe not.

Because the piece is so bright and sunny, it is easy to imagine it eventually placed in some high-level corporate setting, but because it is so deftly and intelligently put together we should be lucky to work there.

Ilit Azoulay
Room #8

Andrea Meislin
534 W 24th St.
Chelsea         Map

212 627 2552

Thursday, March 7 to
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Hours: Tues - Sat, 10 to 6

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