Room Temperature

Photographed by Ami Erlich

Room Temperature

Hila Amram, Naomi Mendel, Hanita Ilan

Curated by Yham Hameiri

19.10.2013 – 22.11.2013

Chaos anxiety is possibly the source of legends and myths about Creation. In various creation legends, chaos is mentioned as the source of existence that comes into being out of the chaos and overcomes it. “In the beginning He created” –the Book of Books opens with these words, continuing with “and the earth was void and chaos, with darkness over the face of the deep.”  After this striking opening chord, a tone of amazement may be heard; the fear has not dissipated, as the word “the deep” suggests.  The hovering of God’s spirit already clearly hints that a new cosmic reality is beginning to develop.  Chaos and emptiness interface with each other.  Both describe what preceded the world’s Creation, prior to the separation of chaos or disorder from the relative order in which the world exists.

Chaos is usually at the heart of the creation myth.  It is sometimes described as a primeval universe in the form of a chaotic egg that contains everything inside its shell. The initial creation myth is sometimes depicted as emerging out of total emptiness, or as a featureless expanse enshrouded in darkness.  The primary significance of the Creation in mythologies is the appearance of separation and increase out of a featureless, uniform chaos.  The initial combination is usually a distinction of the most basic type, namely heaven and earth, light and darkness, and at a later stage, man and woman. In Greek mythology the chaos is a partner with Gaia, Earth, with Eros’s sexual attraction, and together they create the world in its initial metamorphosis.  Subsequently, wars and revolutions occur, until the world we know is established.  On the one hand there is a division between the Divine and the human, and on the other hand, a blurring of borders and limits between them. The gods have human characteristics, and Man sometimes merits the status of a demi-god.

The idea symbolized, represented and modified by the chaos preceding the Creation is what Ovid terms [the wholeness of material], the opposites mixed together, struggling with each other before the separation “And one was ever obstructing the other, despite being entirely of matter; because in the same body the cold striving with the hot, the moist with the dry, the soft with the hard, things having weight with those devoid of weight.” (Ovid, Metamorphoses, lines 18-20). In several mythologies there exists cyclicality between order and chaos, with an unending cycle of creation and destruction, in which worlds are created and then destroyed in turn, and then created anew.

Indeed, one can use the language of chaos to find order.  The law of chaos reveals order where we did not think it exists.  We could view this dynamic chaos as bad news, an expression of the limitation of science, because a chaotic system does not offer us that ability of ideal foresight promised by Newton’s physics.  However, it can in fact be viewed as an achievement of knowledge, since the new language of chaos permits us to find and study clear patterns in phenomena that until now science was forced to relate to as random noise. There are repetitive chaotic patterns in the dripping of a leaky faucet, in the rotation of a perforated water wheel, in the transition to a whirling flow of a viscous fluid, or in the path of a cluster of stars. These are geometric forms composed of miniature copies of themselves, at whatever level of detail we look at them.  It’s not important how much we observe the parts of an individual, including the fractal; we will always find parts that are similar to its original form, so that any small part of the form is similar to the entire original form. There is a fractal structure of self-reflection in the patterns of river drainage, in cloud volumes, in snow flakes, in growing crystals.

Creation is potentially contained in chaos, light within darkness, and order in disorder.  The chaos in alchemy is the prima materia, the raw material from which the process of development begins.  The chaotic place of disorder, misunderstanding, and unawareness, is a place that arouses anxiety, but is also the source of new being, inspiration, the incubation of processes that are beyond our ability to consciously follow their progress.  They burst into awareness at the conclusion of the process that occurs unconsciously on its own, as intuition, as Art.  “Nature, in the final analysis, is chaos.  To the extent that it is ordered in the mind of God, its significance becomes clear to man only through a more or less systematic arrangement of what seems to be found there,” writes Melville in Moby Dick.  According to the kabalistic work, The Book of Creation, the world was created through letters, and according to the Bible, by God’s word.  The religious thought sometimes precedes the realization.

The oxymoron in the expression “room temperature” contains an unknown dimension, which cannot be controlled or predicted absolutely, of temperature and of natural forces, together with the attempt to fashion it and to try to “grab it by the tail”, by creating a sort of personal, inner temperature in the gallery’s space.  This exhibition is a creation that combines opposites – between the controlled and the wild, the artificial and the organic, the mundane and industrial, and between the natural and eruptive.  This is an attempt to create a new order in which the balance achieved through Art, that is now present and developing, will influence the chaos in which we exist.


Naomi Mendel deals with the deconstruction of the gaze, and of all components and parts caught by the eye, breaking them down into their most primeval form – a single line or patch of color.  She avoids relating to composition as a whole, and is drawn inside to its components.  She examines the separation of the parts as though they were autonomous expanses.  She studies the confrontation that is expressed through the contrast between the objects’ visibility on the canvas, as opposed to their contempt and transience in reality.  Similar to her awareness process, she aspires to having the viewer’s gaze break into a multitude of fragments, and then be reassembled.

Hanita Ilan begins from the act of erasing color from the canvas.  On the un-worked canvas surface there is a layer of wet color that is erased by wiping, pouring or scraping.  In the next stage additional colored layers are applied and erased.  They go up and down, and the signs of erasure constitute the remnants of indecision and struggle. Each stage requires quick actions before the paint dries and sticks to the canvas.  The image finally received on the canvas is a manifestation of the process.

Hila Amram connects mundane, industrial objects that she finds around her studio on Allenby Street, with organic materials taken from nature. When she arranges them in the studio, surrealistic, unexpected combinations are created, that suddenly emphasizes the dispensable nature of the simple materials and endows them with an enchanting, fascinating primal significance. By recreating them as hybridized forms that combine mass and individual aspects, a new beauty or appreciation is created, that has an enchanting, independent esthetic balance.

Yham Hameiri, October 2013