A LANGUAGE OF HER OWN
With her one-person show at the Droval Gallery, Nahalat Binyamin, therapy and an infinite number of exhibitions behind her, Tal Eshed reminds us how beautiful art is
About the TAL [‘dew’ in Hebrew] and the ESHED [‘waterfall’ in Hebrew]
by Lior Novick
Tal Eshed is a different type of artist. She uses art as a therapeutic tool and helps to make it concrete to us, despite us being physically similar, we must preserve and reinforce the individual
They say that art is a beautiful thing, something breathtaking, the genuine work that time will never stop or slow down. Those who say this surely meant artists of the sort of Tal Eshed (32), an artist who graduated from the Photography and Video Department of Bezalel, and has a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy, an artist who has taken art to other places.
Her last one-person exhibition is “Onebody” shown at the Droval Gallery in Nahalat Binyamin [Tel Aviv]. This is a breathtaking exhibition that takes viewers on a deep and challenging inner journey. Eshed is part of her art and at the same time, art is part of who she is, something that began in her childhood. “Since I can remember, I have been involved in art,” she tells me. “My mother taught art, we had a studio at home, and as a child I was in the Batsheva dance group for children, before it was an Ensemble. It was very multidimensional. I was a very active child. As the years went by, I had to leave movement because of knee problems, but remained somehow in the arts. I don’t call myself a photography but an artist, I won’t be going into industrial documentation. I create everything ex nihilo.”
Is this what you dreamed of doing when you were young?
“As a young girl, I wanted to study medicine. I imagined that there was no chance that I could survive years in med school, which are exhausting studies, I didn’t know that I would enter the field of medicine through the back door. I studied biology, was very interested in anatomy, genetics, all sorts of artists who are anatomical scientists. Even in my art I always studied through the scientific aspect, and it intrigues me to discover all sorts of things. After the army, I lived in New York, where I began my path with professional photography. I studied photography and interior design, and took a course in color theory that expanded my vision on the use of color. I began to develop a kind of language of my own in photography.”
How did you link this with the side of the therapist?
“I was very connected to my spiritual side. I had to return to Israel to take the entrance exams to Bezalel [Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem]. I was accepted and continued my studies there. I completed my undergraduate degree, and although I felt I was enjoying the medium, it limited me a bit. My attraction to materials is to touch and to create objects. I took many courses and at the same time began studies in alternative medicine, Reiki studies in India with an amazing master, and I continued to roll along the path.
“I studied a great deal over the years, with private teachers, as well. At the same time, I began spiritual psychotherapy with a teacher from the UK who is accompanying me right into the present. This is reflected in many of my works and also in this piece. Each person connects to an artwork from his point of entry.”
SPIRIT AND MATTER
Eshed’s work in “Onebody” brings up in a wonderful way the link between science, medicine and biology with art and spiritual matters. In this exhibition, she makes wide use of the subject of water inspired by the therapies she conducts especially with pregnant women. The artworks (photography, video and installations) focusing on pregnancy, the same point at which an infinite number of possibilities exist for a life to be created. This is a one-of-a-kind moment in the cycle Eshed depicts: birth, life, death, and rebirth.
Eshed wants to bring the viewer into his own inner world based on the approach that the spectrum of emotions does not differ between people. “As a society, we are composed of the total of individuals who feel, think and experience through the same genetic/biological systems, and yet, the emotional functions imprinted within us as paradigms are comprised of the same parts, but in infinite possibilities. This is about the attempt to find what is unique, I would even call it the human spark, the soul that distinguishes us from our fellow man, definitely a fascinating journey.
“One of the most outstanding things at the entrance to the exhibition is the giant umbilical cord seemingly hanging from the sky to the bottom of the pool. This umbilicus between heaven and earth, this moment, this link between spirit and matter, the water that creates life, the source of these infinite possibilities. I feel that part of my role is to help people arrive at some sort of harmony, to achieve balance.
“In 2004, I began to apply my theories in photography. I directed myself to all sorts of channels, all sorts of centers in the body which open one up, open a certain experience or memory. I wanted to bring in something else from the therapeutic place, because art can be treated, it won’t speak to everyone, like anything but art, but there is another specific direction here. I think that the idea was born in me and continues to change as years go by, and I am learning other things on the way. It’s important for me to have interest and a challenge.”
How did your collaboration with Droval begin?
“People say that all of the cells in the body divide every few years. So every 8 years I get new ideas, a kind of puzzle that is solved. That’s how I feel with this work. I worked on most of the photographs in India, which was the moment I said, ‘that’s it,’ the work is here, I can already see how it looks. When Droval Gallery opened, it seemed interesting to me that they contacted me, I met them, saw the space and immediately could see the exhibition in my mind’s eye. That never happened to me before. In earlier years, people found me, saw my stuff, contacted me, and I had an exhibition in an instant. Then it all depends.”
The continuum principle
Eshed always works on several projects simultaneously. In this exhibition as well, we can see a game of mirrors, an attempt to bring the viewer into the picture, into the installation itself, to show how inside this entire complex we all have the same parts. She has vast experience in exhibitions through out the world and is recognized both as an exhibiting artist and as a talented therapist. Perhaps it is due to the fat that she truly brings herself deep into the creative work, or perhaps it is her experience of producing more than beautiful to look at works but her creative artwork has the extra added value of therapy.
What is sure is that this is about a young woman with a defined program, which results in preparing for exhibitions or materials for art works. Then she flows. “It very much depends. In principle, I’m not a ‘work to order’ artist. Some galleries invite me to exhibit, mainly galleries abroad, and tell me that the exhibition has a particular theme, so then I look to see if I have anything already ready on this subject. But as you can see, I have had 3 one-person exhibitions, on which I’ve been working for years. All of these themes developed out of the material. I always have themes of pregnancy, birth, continuity, continuum of time, the link between spirit and matter, how to integrate them and bring them out through art.”
Where does your engagement with birth, creation of life, come in?
“In time, I began to study for a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy” and in 3 years at Lesley College I wrote a paper about what happens before birth in terms of the emotions and from a psychological point of view, all these are very much linked. Things already begin then, and I had exhibitions on this subject. I was in Israel over the past 6 months but before that I was in India, where I made sure to travel a great deal and also it was there I discovered my world of water. I began to study hydrotherapy and all sorts of therapeutic techniques. Water actually returned me to physical movement, which I had begun as a young girl, so then I understood that all of the arts and what’s around them are mediating. Art therapy also has outcomes you can actually see, but it mediates between me and between something.”
Is there a particular artistic or philosophical trend that has influenced you?
“Everything impacts me. I listen attentively, then select what suits me for the same viewpoint. My name is Tal Eshed – I have no idea why my parents selected that name, but Tal means the drops of delicate morning dew, while Eshed is powerful [waterfall]. Since childhood, I have been moving along this axis, along the borders between the powerful and the delicate. And in my art, as well, especially when working on bodywork, I teach myself and I’m in a dialogue with myself. I’m always on the border. Borders are something with an infinite continuum.”