The cliché has it that artists get their inspiration from all sorts of sources
and at all sorts of odd hours of the day and night.
The idea for artist
Ron Arad’s Curtain Call installation, which opened at the Israel Museum on
August 16 and will run until September 5, was spawned by a chance encounter on
the street with a neighbor in 2011.
Actually, the local wasn’t just any
Tom, Dick or Zvika but Marcus Davey, CEO of the fabled Roundhouse music and arts
venue in London’s Camden Town district. Israeli-born Arad lives and works across
the street from the Roundhouse.
“Marcus told me he wanted the next
installation – the second at the Roundhouse, after the interactive Playing the
work by David Byrne, from [US New Wave band] Talking Heads – to be made
by me,” says Arad.
The response was immediate.
“We were just
standing there, and I started reeling off my ideas for Curtain Call
continues. “I said we should do something round, which suits the shape of the
Roundhouse, and it should incorporate screenings on a 360-degree screen which
allows people to pass through it. He was very enthused with the idea. I was
surprised. I thought he’d think I was joking, but he said: ‘Sounds good.’ So we
went for it,” he recounts.
Arad admits that, in fact, he didn’t proffer
the whole concept off the top of his head; some of it had been gestating for a
“I’d played around with moving images before, but I’d never done
anything on such a scale before, and I had not created something round
The installation was displayed in the Roundhouse in August 2011
and drew enthusiastic responses by critics and the public alike.Curtain
is, indeed, an installation of gargantuan dimensions, measuring eight
meters in height and 18 meters in diameter, with the round “curtain” comprising
5,600 silicon rods. The rods provide a backdrop – or immersive digital canvas –
onto which works by Israeli and non-Israeli artists are projected for outdoor
and indoor viewing.
The video creations include contributions from some
of Arad’s artist pals and are culled from a wide range of artistic disciplines,
with works by the likes of American-Swiss artist and composer Christian Marclay;
British visual artist David Shrigley; British photography and video artist Mat
Collishaw; and British-based Israeli fine art photographer Ori
Like much of Arad’s work, Curtain Call
is both highly impressive
and a lot of fun. For the past couple of weeks, members of the public have been
flocking to the Israel Museum to catch the Arad show, which runs daily from 8:30
p.m. to 11 p.m., and from 9 p.m. on Saturdays. You can watch the works unfold
sitting down, lying on the ground or standing inside the circle, as well as from
outside. The works are the same, but the experience is very different from the
inner and outer vantage points.
Sixty-year-old Arad has made an
international name for himself as an architect, industrial designer and artist
since relocating to the UK almost 40 years ago. He has created a wide range of
innovative objects that have been displayed all over the world, as well as
having a hand in the planning of some ground-breaking buildings. He has several
works around Israel, including the planning of the Holon Design Museum and the
public spaces of the Israeli Opera House in Tel Aviv. However, it may well be
particularly pleasing for Arad to have Curtain Call
on show in Jerusalem, where
he started out on his professional path as a student at the Bezalel Academy of
Arts and Design.
Mind you, his time as a student was brief.
only at Bezalel for a year, and I went to London for a trip,” he recalls. “A lot
of Israelis left the country at that time, but I hadn’t planned to leave.” This
was in late 1973, in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War. “I didn’t take my LPs
with me, and I never decided to leave, but I got to London and stayed. It was as
simple as that.”
Arad took a year out from college, and then continued
his academic studies for a further five years at the Architectural Association
in London. After a brief stint of working at an architect’s firm, he set
up his own business in 1981, called One Off. Eight years later, together
with his partner, Caroline Thorman, Arad established Ron Arad Associates on the
premises across the road from the Roundhouse in north London.
his first splash in the design world with his Rover Chair, a hybrid of two
ready-made objects – a scrap yard seat from an old Rover car, which Arad mounted
on a scaffolding frame originally designed in the 1930s. The chair became an
instant hit, and Arad had set out his stall on the international design
Arad’s works are often voluptuous, sometimes veer toward the
outlandish, and generally suggest something of a tongue-in-cheek
caveat. Curtain Call
features all of the above attributes, and then some.
For more information: www.jerusalemseason.com, www.imjnet.org.il, (02) 670-8811