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Third Floor on the Left

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Black Market introduces a series of works created by David Adika over the past two years, as part of his ongoing interest in decorative objects imprinted with the identity of and interior environments and the mundane, and through which cultural tension is often reflected. In this series, Adika focuses his attention on figurines primarily made of plaster, Bakelite, or brass, painted black.

The figurines were made in Israel in the 1960s and 1970s and mass-produced by local manufacturers located in Tel Aviv, the likes of Mizrahi and Hakuli. The local industry kept up with “colonialist” trends, objectifying the exotic, black ‘other’.[1] Today, original figurines reappear in public auctions or flea markets, some are labeled with a local “authentic” tax stamp.

Adika’s black figurines are placed somewhere between that which is tribal, savage, and sexual, and might be perceived as having magic or healing powers. Set in the studio, the objects are photographed under the beneficial circumstances of natural light. The visual result of Adika’s photographic acts alongside the nature of their installation and reformation as contemporary objects[2], all together stress their questionable array of contexts from which they stem, and their purpose.

In his search for local and cultural symbolism in various time periods through the dissonance that exists between object production and the tragic-iconic load they carry, and through questions of cultural appropriation and visual expressions, Adika is concerned with the evolution of terms such as “taste”, “definition”, “society”, and their ever-changing relevance. Drawing from the rich weaves of the history of objects, David Adika’s Black Market series constitutes yet another testament to the thicket in the production of identity and cultural and geo-political boundaries.

The Black Market series tells of Adika’s continued effort to seek additional ways to communicate the “narrative” of a place, and the assimilation of that which is “African” in Israeli culture and society, placing the concept of “Africana” as an essential component in the elements of “Israeliana”. By turning his gaze toward Africa and employing “cultural products and decorative objects” from the past, Adika presents a new viewpoint for examining the desires and anxieties that shape Israeli society – from its inception to the present, and in light of the different Israeli-led infrastructural initiatives throughout the dark continent.

“Since the 1960’s Israel has been involved with Africa – economically, culturally and politically. In the decades since, “Africa” has settled within Israeli culture as a place, an idea, and a geopolitical concept.”[3]

By means of his works and an array of historical and contemporary contexts, Adika wishes to react to the new Israeli scope, to explore the transformations “Africa” undergoes as it arrives in Israel, and the evolving discourse around African immigrants upon their arrival in Tel Aviv (people and objects alike).

Much like Africa of the past, Today’s Africa functions as a geographic and conceptual arena wherein zionistic, territorial, commercial, capitalist, or racial fantasies can be realized. The state’s actions and mechanisms have led to an alleged sense of shared history and decolonization in Africa. However, such actions in fact supported the structuring of the an Israeli identity, and the establishment of a modern, white state.

The installation at Braverman Gallery includes commissioned wall paintings, made by artist Ronnie Carny. The treated walls borrow from Mariam Bartov’s illustrations in the children’s book “Little Alikama,” and function as a decorative backdrop for several of the photographs,  in attempt, all the while, to place them within the gallery space and the scheme of the art world.

[1] The Hakuli factory for example, is known to have copied brass cast figurines made by the Austrain Manufacturer Hagenauer

[2]  Parallel to the production of black figurines in the 1960s in Israel and around the world, the Black Panther figure, based on the character in the comic strip, emerges during a period of political activism. It reflects an antithesis to the stereotypes embedded in African figures in American culture and contains a dimension of Afrofuturism.

[3] Dr. Haim Ya’akobi, “This is not Africa – Borders, Territory, Identity”, Jerusalem: Hakibbutz Hameuchad and Van-Leer Institute, 2015

Press release

Third Floor on the Left

Third Floor on the Left















HaMa'aracha St 31, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel

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