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Israeli artists unique take on street art

Israeli artists Maya Gelfman and Roie Avidan’s ongoing exhibition is an attempt to make people mindful of their surroundings.

(From left to right) Artists Roie Avidan and Maya Gelfman with Reuma Mantzur, Cultural Attache, Embassy of Israel.

Being mindful is an art. But Israeli artists Maya Gelfman and Roie Avidan create mindfulness and the idea of being present through their art. The duo have been creating public art since 2020, where they use surroundings (and sometimes words) to capture the moment instead of focusing on the subjects featured in the frame.

An image shot in a small town in Missisippi is the perfect example. In the photo, Avidan captured Gelfman who stood in front of a laundry store’s wall. The image might look as the one clicked in natural surroundings but Avidan reveals that it became important as it resonated with their thoughts.

“We clicked this picture while waiting for our laundry to dry. We were there in the town during winters and it was a ghost town. All places were closed. Our thoughts while living in the town resonated with the moment we were living - we didn’t know where we would end and where the life would take us to,” he shares.

Fourteen such images are a part of a series ‘Bodies of Work’, being showcased at Gallery ONKAF, New Delhi, till March 3. Supported by the Embassy of Israel, these works are a part of the ‘Mind the Heart! Project’.

Reuma Mantzur, Cultural Attache, Embassy of Israel, who chose these works, liked the artists’ delicate take on the street art.

“These works break the boulders or limits of the medium. The artists have mixed art with life. Though they are a part of street art, they are so delicate and aesthetically appealing. Normally, street art is connected to graffiti, which is more aggressive. But these works are different from traditional works and that’s why it was important for the embassy to support these artists,” she adds.

The ensemble features eight large photos and six small ones captured over a course of four years. The large photos were a part of the Serendipity Experiment and the rest were shot in India on an iPhone as part of the artists’ preliminary works in Mumbai and Delhi.

Sharing the idea behind these photos, Avidan says, “In 2017, we wanted to take the idea of mindfulness and being present to maximum audiences. So, we invented the ‘Serendipity Experiment’, where we kept ourselves as subjects. It is our way of acknowledging that we are just any other element in the composition and the situation is the art.”

How it all started?

The duo’s journey as artists started very humbly with only two suitcases, very little money and a free mind. It all began when they moved from Israel to the US. They decided that for a year, they won’t let their preconceived notions come in their way of creating art.

Both artists successfully took varied art projects – from installations to mural art, among others, without any prejudices. Though they wanted to take this artistic way of life for a year, it continued for four years. By 2020, they have done several art projects outside galleries and museums.

But when asked why they focus on projects outside galleries and museums, apt came the reply, “We are able to find beauty outside galleries and museums, irrespective of how chaotic a place can look. Even when we did murals or small things, it was always about the place and the specific experience that is there.”

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