Zac Hacmon’s (b. 1981) artistry is concentrated on sculptural installations rendered in juxtapositions that lead to allegorical interpretations that confront social and political concerns. His approach evokes a stimulating correlation between architecture and the human body that is considered the most central issue. Manipulating various materials such as ceramic tiles, wood and grab bars, the Israeli artist introduces concepts that have to do with the idea of space; either it recalls an existing place with its own identity or unrecognizable spaces where traces of history or memory do not exist. The artist aims to examine the tension between particular stories or unknown experiences that may come up through his work.
Words: Yannis Kostarias
For example, The Gateway was a steel sculptural creation reminiscent of an Israeli checkpoint. That artwork was “modeled on the Kalandia checkpoint located near Jerusalem, where the everyday experience of state-controlled security measures is most critically felt by Palestinians who wait for hours inside a fenced barricade to cross into Israel each day for work”. Here, the artist addresses a metaphorical visual language in order to highlight a real and complex socio-political reality; his sculptural form, through architecture and collective memory, not only projects issues of power or national identity, but also underlines how architectural structures practically interact with human bodies.
At another level, his newest sculptural work, Afterlife, is “a series of tile-based sculptures consisting of 4×4 inch white industrial tiles, encouraging viewers to consider memory, time, displacement and altered states of “being”. Triggering more abstract concepts, the artist again brings up the significance of his sculptures as art mediums that deliver his thought-provoking ideas in three dimensions. Although the viewer is invited to express his or her own interpretation, Hacmon points out that through his sculptural body of work, he expects them “to have a physical and sensual experience by wandering through [his] installations. As well as experience of intimacy or a meditative moment with one self. [He hopes] it triggers a sense of familiarity combined with foreignness”.
Born in Holon in 1981, Zac Hacmon lives and works in New York. Zac graduated from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem and also completed his studies at the Slade School of Fine Arts in London. Last year, he received an MFA from Hunter College in New York. His work has been exhibited in many galleries around the world such as in the United States, South Korea, Israel and Ireland. There is also remarkable number of art residencies that Hacmon participated in, including the MMCA in South Korea, MeetFactory in Czech Republic as well as the Salem Art Works in Upstate New York.
Art Verge: Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
Zac Hacmon: My process is usually divided to research and production, the research stage often starts with texts that inspire me, the most recent one being the book The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt, in particular a chapter which deals with the private and public realm. From there I move to the production stage. I see my work as an ongoing project where I continue from the point I last stopped on a previous project; This allows me to slowly develop a new visual language. In my studio I work with small maquettes in order to formally explore new sculptures, as well as with 3d software to create renders of ideas for sculptures before I begin working with the actual materials like wood, ceramic tiles or grab bars for example.
AV: How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?
ZH: Square, Industrial, Freedom.
AV: Can you name any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
ZC: I’m a big fan of the work of Nari Ward, his current show at the New Museum had a great impact on me, it is a great opportunity to see canonical works that have been in storage for the last decade and before they will disappear for another one. Another source of inspiration is the British sculptor Phyllida Barlow, I think the strength of both artists lies in scale and material but mainly how labor intense their works are.
AV: What can you tell us about your new series of tile-based sculptures named ‘UNBORN’ which will be on view at mhPROJECT nyc gallery?
ZH: That it’s going to be exciting! Or at least, for me it is, as it will be my second solo exhibition in New York. This show is titled ‘UNBORN’ and in a way it is a continuation of my last show AFTERLIFE at LMAK gallery. The new show will be the first time I incorporate two projects of in one show, each project explores a different aspect of space and by combining them together in one space, I wish to create a multidimensional experience.
AV: Working with different physicalities, patterns and objects, does it feel like on ongoing challenge to explore the idea of materiality in your shows?
ZH: I defiantly feel called to take on the challenge of creating works that are innovative and explore material beyond their common use, but eventually the aim is to distort perception,which
AV: Creating a new artwork can be a solitary process. If this applies to you, when you concentrate on a new artwork does it affect your social life at all?
ZH: I believe that in our society we are pushed more and more towards solitary, even though we are being more social through social media, it reduces our privacy which eventually leads to solitary even if you are in the public sphere. I mention this because I think my work reflects on these issues of public and private. As far as solitary in the process of making a new work of art, I think it is a good kind of solitary unlike the first one I mentioned. During the process of making a new art work I try to connect to the self and find some meaning that is considered lost or abounded in our digital era.
AV: What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space like, and how does it affect your process?
ZH: My studio is my bubble, a highly functional sphere, where I can translate thoughts to matter and form. Currently my studio is a studio I have been awarded by the Lower Manhattan Culture Council, it is on the 15th floor of an office building in the financial district. And my studio is in a what was once a corporate office space. The restrictions of this space are both challenging and inspiring. It is an odd experience creating a sculpture that requires, cutting wood and ceramic tiles, in an office space.
AV: Which exhibition did you visit last?
ZH: The last show I visited was at the Met Breuer, titled ‘Follow This Line’ by the Iranian-American artist Siah Armajani. I was fascinated by the way he addresses exile and the way his work functions as a device for public performances.
AV: What do you hope audiences will take from your work?
ZH: I hope the audience will have a physical and sensual experience by wandering through my installations. As well as experience of intimacy or a meditative moment with one self. I hope it triggers a sense of familiarity combined with foreignness.
AV: What does your mum think about your art?
ZH: Slowly, she is getting it, it took a while for her to be supportive but I think that my dedication convinced her, today she is very supportive and proud and we discuss a lot about the evolution of my work and it’s meaning.
AV: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
ZH: It is very clear to me that I’m a night person, my best hours are between 10 p.m to midnight or until the last train home from studio. I feel like privacy arises with darkness and that is the kind of mode I would like to create my work in, as a kind of a secret, soon to be exposed.
AV: Which are your plans for the near future?
ZH: The weekend of June 21st will have open studios at the Lower Manhattan Culture Council (LMCC), to finalize the 9 month Workspace Residency Program, that I have been part of in NY’s financial district.
© All images are courtesy of the artist