Second-Hand Artifacts, 2019, Neta Bar Zion - Eretz Israel Museum

Second-Hand Artifacts, 2019, Neta Bar Zion

Photo: Hadar Saifan


Clay, ceramic decals; wheel thrown, shattering, glazing


Neta Bar Zion, b. 1989


While studying in the United States, Neta Bar Zion visited the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia, where she was fascinated by the artifacts on display. She was flooded with questions about their stories: Who were the people who had created and used them, and how many owners did they have over time? These thoughts made their way into the work featured in the exhibition, in which she realizes her dream of creating her own archaeological findings. The ceramic shards in this work are reminiscent of ‘ostraca’ – pottery shards that in ancient times were used, among other things, as a writing surface. Bar Zion created contemporary ostraca of sorts, which do not bear words but rather photographs from her family albums and pictures from second-hand stores and antique markets. Bar Zion argues that in contrast to written language, photographs allow the viewers to offer their personal interpretation, just as the archaeologist’s inner world often impacts his interpretation of his findings.
Speaking of her choice to combine ceramics and photography, Bar Zion says: “I suppose that the combination of these two fields is based on a desire to preserve a moment in time by means of a material that can survive for thousands of years. I have a fantasy in which the ceramic shards I prepared will survive for thousands of years, telling a story in pictures even when the people and the photographs are long been forgotten.”


On display at the Rothschild Gallery, Tel Aviv Biennale of Crafts & Design, MUZA – Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv.