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Haunted art
By; Ella Lewitt

An unusual Tel Aviv gallery exhibition demonstrates artist Mirit Caspi Cohen's preoccupation with materials and the human body.
Sometimes it seems Cohen creates garments - dresses, jackets, a pair of ruffley pants - that are only partially vacated of their human wearer. While these are tangible, three-dimensional objects crafted out of organic and synthetic matter, there's a bizarre sense of weightlessness and ambiguity at work here. The sculptures don't seem alive, but they're not really dead either, and so the gallery space feels haunted. Cohen also has a unique ability to make her work seem in motion, like a veil blowing in the wind, even though the works here are inanimate, usually static pieces. She makes the viewer want to know how she gets materials like cheesecloth, hair and latex to behave like this.
Perhaps the best word for these sculptures is simply "weird," but in a way that makes the eyes linger on the forms and the brain start to churn. For example, one sculpture appears to be a deflated woman dressed in layers of gauzy, lace-like fabric, like some kind of used-to-be elegant Cinderella after the ball. The figure is suspended from the ceiling by a coarse braid, and while her body seems to have already disintegrated, ten red-painted toes peek out from under her skirt like an enigmatic tease. Many of the sculptures seem like aliens, but with an eerily human character.
Cohen's work is simultaneously graceful and creepy, two words that don't normally go together. The show is provocative, not in political or sociological terms, but in the way the artist makes the viewer aware of the thin line between beauty and repulsion, femininity and decay. Some of the pieces even appear to be traces of a violent act, yet they evoke an oddly serene mystique, through Cohen's quiet color palette and the delicacy of the materials she uses.
Viewers yearning for something you don't see everyday should make an effort to see this show before it closes on April 30.
THE JERUSALEM POST, Apr. 19, 2007 17:27 | Updated Apr. 19, 2007 18:46

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