Andi Arnovitz lives and works in Jerusalem, Israel. She is a conceptual artist, using etching, digital information and various printmaking processes, as well as fabric, thread and even porcelain to create both print series, artist books and large-scale installations. These pieces explore various tensions that exist within religion, gender and politics.
Andi has exhibited her work in England, China, The United States, Israel, Spain, Poland, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Canada, Italy, Mallorca and Bulgaria. She has had many one-woman shows and participated in multiple group shows. Her work is in many private collections in both the United States and in Europe, as well as major universities, museums and institutions, including the US Library of Congress, the Israel National Library, The Museum of Art in Ein Harod, Yeshiva University Museum, The Museum of the Diaspora, Yale University, UCLA, and The Smithsonian Museum of American History.
hand formed and glazed porcelain
1200 hand made fish
Permanent Installation at the Israel National Aquarium, Jerusalem, Israel
Dimension variable but the fish expand over an area of four meters by three meters.
“I’m Not” is a grand, visual statement: a graphic manifesto that celebrates independence and stands in defiance against a world that increasingly blurs boundaries and denigrates tradition. Over one thousand porcelain fish, each one hand-made and hand-painted, are suspended as a response to the world of plastic mass production. The fish swim en masse in schools, with each fish sticking to its own kind, suggesting an isolation from, or perhaps even exclusion of, the other. There is a sense of a massive surge, an aquatic stampede of blind conformity. Somewhere in this teeming, undulating sea of porcelain there is one lonely fish swimming in the opposite direction.
Because fish swim under the water, Jewish tradition considers them immune from the power of the evil eye. Like God, fish never close their eyes, and because they lay their eggs one at a time and in great quantity, fish are considered to be the ultimate symbol of fertility.
Fish figure predominately in Jewish art: in kettubot, synagogue art, folk art and amulets. Fish can even be found in Jewish funerary depictions.
“I’m Not” draws on the rich, visual tradition of fish as a nuanced, historic symbol, while the labor intensive manufacture of the fish is in stark contrast with today’s mass-production methodologies. The installation can be viewed in the continuum of the symbolic use of fish or simply appreciated as a colorful, visual commentary on today’s world.
“Vest of Prayers”
I would like to suggest that wrapping, winding and tying are very Jewish acts. We wrap tefillin, we wrap the Torah, we bind it, we wrap ourselves in tallitot, Jewish prayer shawls, Abraham bound Isaac, we roll our parchments, our mezzuzot, we braid challot, orthodox women walk around the groom seven times, we specially tie the knots of our tzitzit, we tie special knots in our shrouds, we walk the Torah around the sanctuary, we pull the lights of the Shabbat candles towards our eyes three times…wrapping, tying, winding… these are very Jewish acts.
This vest of prayers, thousands of scrolls that have been rolled, wrapped and tied is a deliberate statement made in opposition to the random violence that often unfolds all around us. A suicide vest is packed with as many nuts, bolts and sharp pieces of metal as can be, meant to inflict physical harm on as many people as possible. This vest is the antithesis of that. This vest is made of quintessential Jewish tools – paper, words and string. And it also is a metaphor for the way Jews view and value prayer. Judaism tells us that praying in community, all together is more powerful than praying alone. It also alludes to the very female practice of tehillim circles which women enact in times of need- whereby psalms are recited by groups of women. And in the piece, truly- it is the sheer quantity that moves us.
“The Black List”
Installed in a solo show at the Jerusalem Artists House 2017
Paper and threads
The Israeli Rabbinate has a black list which is confidential. On this list there are over six thousand names of Israelis who are forbidden to marry under Rabbinic law. As the Rabbinic Authority holds to key to all legally sanctioned marriages in the state of Israel, this list and the people on them are for all purposes “black listed” forever as being unsuitable for marriage.
The ramifications of such a list can throw families into turmoil, destroy the fabric of relationships and sew nasty seeds of doubt or resentment within families. These laws are especially harsh for converts who may have become less religious over the years.
As a form of protest I created a wall of black paper scrolls, all hand rolled, secured and tied with black threads. These form a testimony to the lives that have and could be ruined.
The viewer will experience a sea of black- paper- a reference to the documentation and bureaucracy involved… scrolls- a direct and literal reference to Jewish text and that which is considered “holy.” Wrapped and bound because this list is so binding and final.
exhibited at the Jerusalem 2015 Biennale
porcelain, waxed linen, threads and silk organza
each house is 11 x 9 x 5 cm
Exile by Andi Arnovitz
Today there are over 58 million refugees. This is the highest number since WWII.
The greatest numbers are from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. Today we can add Ukraine.
This piece is really about what a home is, what happens when you leave it, what happens when you have to leave it in a very short time frame.
What is precious and what is not.
I used porcelain because it is precious and fragile… like a home.
and I have intentionally kept even the porcelain houses that broke because people hold onto even that which is broken and destroyed.
This is about exile, about refugees and about homelessness. This is a piece that embodies the Passover seder, the Babylonian exile, the massive deportations during WWII… for Jews, the theme of this piece reverberates throughout the generations.