Impressions of the exhibition by Anush Ghukasyan and Uriel Caspi


The two artists from Israel and Armenia were guests at the Ceramic Artist House in April and May as part of the Ceramic Artist Exchange Tandem Program.

Uriel Caspi (Israel)
Uriel Caspi’s artworks propose an interplay between the revival of ancient crafts and contemporary art studio practice. Visually inspired by archeological remnants from the Middle East and the aesthetics of future design, this installation of ceramic sculptures features anatomical fragments of the ‘posthuman’. Going beyond the familiar human genetics, where nature and technology become indistinguishable. His forms based on morphological research that spans across the spectrum of Vessel – Body – Sculpture. Confronting the relation between the body and the ceramic vessel, dictates the proportions and the volume of the object, and generates the metamorphosis of human body into ceramic sculpture.

Photo: Jantje Almstedt

Seeking for the absolute truth in the post-post-modernism is a challenging task. As an artist and a scholar, he roams around and beyond the familiar genetics of human nature, seeks for new habitats, alternative grammar and settings. Inspired by fire and gravity, in this installation, the sculptures and the proposed setting mutually influence each other. The reflections of the glaze and the background create mesmerizing moments of optical illusions.
The installation encompasses visual and the conceptual aspects as well as research into materials and clay methodologies. Utilizing the centuries-old building technique as “Jarre-à-la-corde,” which combines two early human crafts, rope and ceramics. The process begins with a wooden skeleton or a mold shaped to a desired form. Sisal rope is winded around the skeleton,and then soft clay is layered on the rope. Once the clay is dry, the inner skeleton is taken apart and the rope as well. The process of ‘peeling’ the rope and emptying the viscera alludes to human birth and the detachment of the umbilical cord. The process usually combines traditional and digital fabrication and makes the construction an explicit part of the artwork itself.
The surface of the sculptures is coated with formulated Arabian luster glaze with precious metals, which results in a reflective-iridescent luster after the firing in the kiln. The reflective surface of the sculptures acts like a mirror which enables the viewers to see themselves within the work. In this installation, the quality of the glaze is reflecting aesthetics from antiquity and visionary environment from the future at the very same time. For over 8 years, Caspi is compulsively researching the ancient technique of lusterware. Arabian lusters developed during the Middle Ages along the shores of the Mediterranean. The technique has been developed after tremendous attempts by artisans and potters to produce gold and was shrouded in mystery and secrecy.

Anush Ghukasyan (Armenia) shows a spatial installation in which she raises questions about consumption and art, drawing references to the current situation in Armenia. She plays with domestic cosiness and security and confronts this emotional landscape with symbols of discomfort and ultimately with death.

Photo: Jantje Almstedt

In this installation, she aims to unsettle people about their daily lives. These lives often go without pause, preventing them from recognizing the cruelty in their normal, comfortable habits. People‘s constant overconsumption results in the raising and killing of countless animals in terrible conditions, highlighting a dark aspect of human behavior driven by excessive consumerism.
She creates a living space in which she incorporates ceramic sculptures. Everything appears familiar, yet this impression is disrupted by absurdities. On a chair sits an oversized head without a face. On a table lie numerous headless chickens. She numbered the ceramic chickens to prompt viewers to reflect on the fact that the numbers we mention are not just statistics—they represent living creatures and animals. This reduction to numbers also applies to people. When we discuss catastrophes or wars, we often cite the number of lives lost without acknowledging that each number represents an individual life.
Her goal is to challenge the habit of reducing lives to mere figures. She wants to disrupt the ease with which we accept these numbers without thought, encouraging a deeper recognition of the individuality and value of each life, whether animal or human.