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Art meets science: The first artist residency at the Weizmann Institute of Science

This year the Weizmann Institute will host Lihi Turjeman, Chen Flamenbaum, Carmi Dror and Lee Yanor to promote collaboration, mutual inspiration and dialog between artists and scientists

(l-r) Lee Yanor, Carmi Dror and Chen Flamenbaum

“The links between art and science aren’t always evident, tangible or obvious. But artists, just like scientists, search for the unknown, derive insights from error and are guided by curiosity.” With these words, at a ceremony that took place recently at the Koffler Accelerator, Prof. Tzachi Pilpel, head of The Braginsky Center for the Interface between Science and the Humanities, opened the inauguration of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Artist in Residence Program. Artists Lihi Turjeman, Chen Flamenbaum, Carmi Dror and Lee Yanor are the first participants in this unique program, designed to promote collaboration, mutual inspiration and dialog between artists and scientists. They were selected from 150 applicants who had responded to an open call issued in December 2021. The selection committee included the institute’s art curator Yivsam Azgad, Prof. Nava Dekel and Pilpel.

Lihi Turjeman. Between the random and the scientific

The first to take up residence in an on-campus studio, renovated specially for this purpose, is visual artist Lihi Turjeman. Turjeman, who will be staying at Weizmann for approximately three months, divides her time between Turin, Italy, and Tel Aviv, and has exhibited her work in Israel and abroad. She was awarded the 2015 Young Artist Award of Israel’s Ministry of Culture and Sports and holds a BFA and MFA from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Turjeman relates to time, place, identity and geopolitical issues by dissecting, dismantling and rebuilding her visual perception of these topics. Her works display a productive tension between figurative shapes, action and abstraction, depicting a movement toward revelation and discovery on a spectrum between the random and the scientific. Her paintings are characterized by large-scale formats and are usually the product of long-term creative processes. At the completion of her residency, Turjeman is expected to exhibit her works on campus.

“Artists, just like scientists, search for the unknown, derive insights from error and are guided by curiosity.”
— Prof. Tzachi Pilpel

Later this year the Institute will host Chen Flamenbaum, a multidisciplinary artist who researches handcrafting techniques from various cultures and locales, breaks them down and creates from them new fusions. His approach is based on alternating between quick sketches and complex material sculpture. Flamenbaum recently founded a studio for ceramic sculpture in Tel Aviv, in which he teaches and collaborates with other artists.

Communicating Vessels (2021). A work by Lihi Turjeman

The next occupant of the on-campus studio will be Carmi Dror, a photographer and a video and new media artist practicing lens-based art and digital spaces. Examining art and technology simultaneously, she is interested in the junction between imagery, computer vision and human perception, focusing on the phenomena of “noise” and disruption in data processing systems. In 2019 she participated, together with artist Maya Smira, in the exhibition Now With Noise, curated by Azgad and held at the David Lopatie Conference Centre at the Institute.

This year’s final artist-in-residence will be Lee Yanor, a photographer, video and mixed-media artist. Her works create an experimental hybrid space, a “photographic choreography” that reframes and presents in an unexpected light our familiar reality using emulsions on fabric, holograms, chiffon prints, glass prints and multi-channel video installations. In her works, she fuses plastic art with video, sound and performance. Yanor is also the creator of the film Coffee with Pina about the choreographer Pina Bausch.

Yonatan Blumenfeld. A poetry slam performance with the participation of scientists

Also invited to speak at the inaugural ceremony were two artists who had taken part in a pilot residency at the Institute over the past two years. Choreographer Shahar Binyamini, who had created and performed his dance piece Evolve while staying at the Institute, shared insights from his residency, which opened him up to new worlds that continue to influence his work today: This past summer, he and his partner went on a world tour with Evolve, including performances in Japan and South Korea. The second guest speaker was spoken word artist Yonatan Blumenfeld, who described his residency as enlightening and inspiring, encouraging participating artists to savor every moment. Blumenfeld’s residency resulted in a poetry slam performance with the participation of Institute scientists, recently held at the Sela Auditorium. “It was a fascinating experience,” said Blumenfeld. “The participants explored the boundaries between scientific and artistic research and found their individual voices and performance styles.”

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