Destroyed Present: On Ravit Lazer’s Exhibition Ruins

What are raw materials? This question is particularly important–even if unconsciously–for artists working in the material arena. This arena is nurtured by raw materials such as minerals, organic and inorganic materials, as points of departure or dialogue partners in the creative process.

Ernst H. Gombrich asks how the world is represented by art. The question of representing reality passes like a scarlet thread through the history of art and seeks to depend on a historical, cultural, technological and political context.2 This text sees to view material or materiality in their broad context as significant players in understanding the broad context of objects in the art and design fields. Therefore, the reaction of raw materials to various actions of those working with them is highly significant to the creative process, its outcome and its interpretation. Often, the very essence of the creative act is encapsulated in the artists’ attempt to stretch the boundary of a certain material property, or to produce a new and unexpected physical manifestation of a familiar material. These outcomes would often be highly appreciated given their centrality in the current material art discourse. It seems, however, that additional layers of meaning of raw materials are no less important. In addition to the sense described above, raw materials are also charged with cultural and personal significance.3 This assumption has become enrooted in plastic art from around the mid-20th century and is still charged in personal stories and inter-cultural encounters.

Artists’ inner world may be viewed as a kind of raw material which charges the creative act with meaning. Biographical details, historical events or memories and imaginings have become, during the 20th century, highly significant, legitimate and even central to the interpretation of artists’ personal language. Consequently, in its broadest sense, the term raw material seeks to lace, together with the materials in the simplest sense of the word, a fabric of socio-historical meanings woven with personal and intimate meanings as integral to the process of interpreting the artwork.

The war has used up words; they have weakened, they have deteriorated.1