Efrat Kedem was born 1980 in Jerusalem, Israel, and currently resides in Princeton, NJ. She received her B.Ed.F.A. (2005) from the Midrasha School of Art, and her M.F.A. (2008) with honors from Bezalel Academy of Art & Design. Her art shows her curiosity about the traces left by the time-flow of everyday life in private and public spaces and with conversions and counter-conversions of objects and materials from one space to another. She often uses remnants of rooms, memories, and visual moments from the environment and relocates them in a different space, the exhibition space, which becomes her work partner. Some of her works start from a given space and reflect upon space itself and upon the concept of site-specificity. She mostly works with found objects, her artistic choice to produce reusable art that recycles the existing object. This is not only environmental but also conceptual recycling. In light of the cultural landscapes of late capitalism, when the world is filling up with stuff, it has become urgent to think of the found object as a raw material. Building on the twentieth-century artistic avant-garde tradition of object trouvé, but going beyond it, her work asks us to think of the found object as a starting point, not an end result.
1) What or who inspired you to want to be an artist?
The understanding that I can give a shape to my thoughts and to my ideas made me realize that I want to be an artist: the discovery that the language I speak fluently is the one without words.
2) What was your creative journey that has brought you to where you are in your career today?
When I had just graduated from Hamidrasha School of Arts I was concerned about my future, and annoyed by people asking me about what am I about to do. One of my teachers whom I really loved told me: tell everyone you are working on your solo show, and the rest will take care of itself. Surprisingly, she was right, and I keep working ever since. I am deeply influenced by the places where I live. My work is intimately connected to spaces and environments, which for me are almost like raw materials. Moving to the United States, two years ago, transformed my work: from using broken furniture and cardboard found in the streets of Tel Aviv, I moved to using synthetic lawn, and started photographing and documenting the local environment here, with its sometime ironic aspiration to material perfection.
3) What do you need as an artist today?
Since moving to Princeton I feel a great need in meeting new friends and colleagues; a need to expand my circles, a need to be part of a community. Working with artists, curators, and writers in Tel Aviv was for me a fruitful and enriching experience.
4) What creative project are you working on now?
As an artist in residence in the Arts Council of Princeton I have been working this summer on The Reality Show, 2012, a large scale video installation with 42 simultaneous video feeds of locations around the town. It brings to mind a control room, where the heartbeats of various spaces are encapsulated, and reflects my continuing interest in video surveillance. It will be on show between Oct 4th and Nov 21st.
5) Where do you see yourself and your career in 10 years?
I wish I could by then work and exhibit in places like Beirut or Damascus, be part of a better Middle East, with no animosity between Israel and its neighbors. I wish to continue to challenge myself. I also hope to be surrounded by family and friends.
6) What does it mean to you to be an Israeli artist?
I do not define myself this way, but I am aware of the fact that in the United States this is used to classify me. Anyway, I’m very proud of it. Israel is most dear and important for me; it is my home.
7) What does it mean to you to have an organization like AICF available in the art world?
Organizations supporting artists are a blessing, as this kind of support is much needed and far from being trivial. I am happy about being introduced to other people who share similar interests to mine. Beyond the material support, it gives a sense of community and belonging.