Artist Spotlight: Tal Ben Avi

Tal Ben Avi (b. 1990) studied at Camera Obscura School of Photography. He continued his professional education through studies of Fine Arts at Hamidrasha Faculty of the Arts, and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2017 with support by the Shlomo Vitkin Excellence Scholarship. Ben Avi is a former member of P8 Gallery in Tel Aviv. Today lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

What or who inspired you to want to be an artist? 

Since I was very young, I was involved with art somehow. At first, I had a lot of interest in painting, photography, music, writing… It was always there in the background of everything I did and was involved with. 

I was 14 years old when I started taking it more seriously. At the time, I had an art therapist who exposed me to darkroom photograms during our sessions. This encouraged me to take my father’s old camera and to start experiencing it. As a result, I built a darkroom in my parents’ house and it took off from there.

Archival print mounted onto parquetry patterns

I feel close to nature, and solitude is important for me. Occasionally, I wander alone in places I’ve never been. Sometimes I overstay on my daily bus rides and get off at bus stops I’m not familiar with and start walking from there. My photography equipment is always with me, and if not, I always come back to these places. 

What was the creative journey that has brought you to where you are in your career today?

Between 2010-2011, after I dropped out of the Camera Obscura School of Photography, I rented a small one-bedroom in a small town in southern Israel. My apartment was near an animal farm and surrounded by nature. 

Installation view from thesis project graduation exhibition at Hamidrasha Faculty of Arts, Beit Berl

I was outside the city for almost two years. During that time, I earned my rent by working at the animal farm while still making art. It was an essential and productive time that helped me shape my way of looking at the world.

What do you need as an artist today? 

My primary needs are space and time — my works are based on long periods of wandering in nature and places while taking photographs. I have a routine of editing, developing and making decisions later on. I need space to test large prints and photo installation sculptures with combined industrial and home materials.

Installation view from ‘Post Encounters’ Solo Exhibition at Hadassah Academic College Gallery, Jerusalem

What creative project are you working on now?

I am working on a 3D scan project made of scenes I shoot outside. I scan places and objects in 3D. I photograph and manipulate various sculptural materials in the studio afterwards. I’m at the very beginning of the process, But I have a couple of ongoing projects I started in Israel before I relocated to NYC.