Urban Skin (catalogue text)
Uprooted asphalt fragments, a fracture that exposes the geology and ecology of the familiar urban land. When we approach, it is an optical illusion of sorts. It is hard to distinguish appearance from material iconology. As if the true intention of the work is to capture the viewer in the gap between his or her conception and the asphalt body.

Text by dr. Efrat Mishori

Urban Skin (wall text)
Fresh Paint 7, November 2014
Wall text:
Viewing the work from a distance, one will see a large asphalt cluster and uprooted road fragments. These are taken from a road pavement site and positioned in their authentic state on top of the white pedestal of a classical sculpture.
The broken asphalt planks serve as a foundation. Their edges expose the geology and ecology of the familiar urban land, in the same contrastive material structure of a black cast road, underneath which lays a white layer of gravel and limestone. The lower margins of the asphalt planks merge with the different types of soil: clods of red loam, stones, rocks, transforming into their own ecological niche.
Approaching the work enhances the intensity of observation. There is something disturbing in the asphalt’s upper texture, which invites a closer examination, seeking physical relations. The viewer recognizes he is facing a leathery carcass, sprawled out like a large mammal with organic-like outlines. Abandoned soil and infrastructure waste, usually lying at the side of the road, reveal themselves as a ‘well made’ skin fabrication; a large plate, composed of a meticulous arrangement of thousands of tiny skin elements, individually placed and replicating a life-size model.
There is something shocking in the plastic qualities of the skin. The sense of bewilderness stems from the encounter with the dead object’s living matter. The condensed black, the viscous organic tar, the traditional bitumen are suddenly transformed into mere craft; an artisanship of leatherwork.
Ronen Raz’ artistic path traversed design and clothes making. He is an amateur entomologist, who practiced taxidermy and animal preservation. Raz uses biological tissues, such as skin and hair and like Vija Celmins, “invents reality on another surface”(1) . The work process is multi-layered, complicated and grueling. The work requires physical force, delicate motor skills and endless patience, as well as virtuosic practices of Haute Couture. The final high-end product is an anonymous road chunk; a fragment of nowhere, with no beginning and no end. A transitory segment, offering the transition as the essence itself, and the movement of seeking and wandering as the only place one can hold onto.
The viewer is forced to separate his sense of sight from the associative conductivity of the material. The original is too true to the copy. We see a road, yet acknowledge that it is not. As if the true intention of the work is to capture the viewer in the gap between his or her conception and the asphalt body.
So much physical presence.

Dr. Efrat Mishori, October 2014.

(1) Lane Relyea, Robert Gober, Briony Fer, Vija Celmins, Phaidon, 2004, pg.25

Geological samples