Zadok Ben-David in #ExpoRecommends: “Surface” Inspiration

ExpoRecommends

Inspired by our latest issue, “Surface” a few of the other Expo editors and I created a list of multi-genre recommendations. In addition to fiction, nonfiction, and podcast recommendations from the other editors, yours truly found a must-see art exhibition in Los Angeles:

Zadok Ben-David People I Saw but Never MetAt Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Zadok Ben-David’s People I Saw but Never Met (on view through May 27) blankets the surface of the gallery. Over 3,000 renderings of global citizens who were seen, photographed, and sketched by the artist in candid positions—a combination of smaller chemically etched figures and forty-five larger hand-cut aluminum figures—populate the entire floor. The two-dimensional figures question our ability to get beneath the surface of the strangers we pass on the street (or in LA, in our cars) every day. We see them moving through their own worlds, sometimes striking compelling poses or wearing interesting outfits that perhaps remain in our minds for a moment or a day, or less often, imprint themselves into our longterm memory. But even if we do remember these fellow humans, what do we know about them beyond the way they present themselves to the outside world? Are they transparent and one dimensional like Ben-David’s artworks, or, more likely, do they have a depth we can’t observe in a single moment from our distance?

This distance from our chance encounters is paralleled in the presentation. We, the viewers, cannot penetrate the line that divides us from the figures, who are frozen on their stage-like setting. We can see and study the people in the foreground, but those in the back remain something of an enigma. We can’t make out their details, and they almost fade to the background of the gallery as so many people fade to the backs of our memories. The entire piece seems to be a call to look beneath the surface, to interact rather than just encounter, to push the boundaries of what it means to “see” someone.

Find the rest of the recommendations on the Expo blog.

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