Etti Abergel

1960 | Kiryat Tivon, Israel
Etti Abergel — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Portrait of Etti Abergel

Israeli multidisciplinary artist.

Etti Abergel’s artistic career began in the early 1980s with a BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem, and started exhibiting her work a decade later, in the mid-1990s. E. Abergel has worked primarily with installations, a practice that she has increasingly expanded, developing its sculptural, drawing and architectural aspects. Over the years her work has raised two major and parallel narratives: a dialogue with 20th-century Western art that questions the link between modernism and postmodernism during the second half of the century, as well as her identity as a Jewish-Mizrahi artist born into a traditional family who emigrated from Morocco and settled in the north of Israel. Both narratives are manifold: artistic and biographical, international and local, contemporary, modernist and historical. E. Abergel develops and confronts these narratives mainly through the use of grids, readymades and the principle of deskilling.

In E. Abergel’s works grids can be found not only embodied in the works, but also as patterns of floor tiles, pillars or grilles. As is clear in Cosmic Work (2006) and Archeology of Otherness (2017), grids appear in different ways: upright or nearly collapsing, orderly and methodical, but at the same time chaotic and unravelled. In details from Sculpture (2018), Two Moons (2014) and Other Objects (2011) we can see how readymades and deskilling create the sculptural aspect of the installations by integrating everyday objects such as pens, kitchenware, crates, bottles and iron wire, with artistic interventions such as rough bindings, paint spilt on sculptures, breaking, tying, wrapping, folding or heaping.

Many installations are made from objects like baskets, boxes, bottles and ropes. The artistic gesture transforms them from cheap, anonymous and industrial commodities into personal and meaningful objects through actions that almost deconstruct them such as gluing, repeated tying or simple wrapping. E. Abergel uses “unskilled” Dadaist-like techniques, but rather than challenging traditional work as a modernist artist, her approach to mastering and academic education is somehow anarchist, using contemporary methods to create super-skilled artefacts. Her techniques, which originated as anti-techniques, become an expression of fine workmanship and wisdom embodied in the artist’s hands.

In her approach E. Abergel adopts the techniques of early 20th-century modernists, as well their critique in the century’s second half. In a dialogue, attentive yet independent of both artistic and family traditions, the artist reinterprets the foundations of those trends. By taking the grid out of the calibrated space and placing it in the installation’s space, the grid-like image creates surpluses that sabotage the sensation of stability and order that the grid is supposed to provide. The liberated artistic expression suddenly resonates with the world of assembly-line workers, packaging, and transporting. The identity-deconstructing object becomes the object signifying identity, while deskilling becomes reskilling.

In 2003 her career received significant international recognition when curator Francesco Bonami invited her to participate in the Venice Biennale. Since then, E. Abergel’s career has included numerous solo and group exhibitions in Israel and abroad.

Yonatan Amir

Partnership with Artis

© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Linked articles
Linked themes
Discover other artists
Biography published in the framework of the program
Partnership with Artis

of Women Artists
& Exhibitions

Facebook - AWARE Twitter - AWARE Instagram - AWARE
Villa Vassilieff - 21, avenue du Maine 75015 Paris (France) — info[at]aware-art[.]org — +33 (0)1 55 26 90 29