ArtNow! An Artist Talk with Tamar Ettun

ArtNow! An Artist Talk with Tamar Ettun

January 7, 2020 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM


Tamar Ettun is our newest Artist in Residence at MOCA Tucson. She comes to us from Brooklyn but is originally from Jerusalem. As a sculptor and performance artist, her work deals with trauma and somatic empathy. During her residency in Tucson, Ettun will be weaving on people, capturing their bodies in a still position, creating cage-like vessels that both contain and limit their body’s movement. The ropes are collected by a fisherwoman in New England and shipped to AZ. Each sculpture will perform a personal ritual referencing a mystical Jewish tradition, as part of a healing practice. To this end, she will research rituals of her own orthodox upbringing in Jerusalem, specifically centered around water. For example: Mikveh, a monthly cleansing ritual dipping in water.


Artist Statement:


There is no word for “davka” in English. The closest would be “purposefully.” There is no word for “awkward” in Hebrew. My work lies between davka and awkward, combining performers with sculpture in the absurdity of everyday life.

My work deals with trauma, emotional empathy, and the universality of shared human experience through a personal lens. I do this through a formal study of sculpture and performance art which originates from and forms movement and stillness, but expands their possibilities.

Since 2008 I have been working with inflatables: army parachutes, hot-air balloons, and huge hand-made bubbles that serve as moving sculptures that the audience can enter. These colorful bubbles invites visitors to go into a meditative state, immersing themselves in the bright colors or music, and interact with one another in play. They create social spaces and forge temporary communities through multisensory play. For my recent installation piece “Dead Sea” I dyed 300 yards of fabric by hand, that created a colorful composition and were sewn into large-scale sails. The dyeing and sewing process transformed the material, from a fabric used in paratroopers units today into an imaginary landscape, referring specifically into the process of healing from sexual violence in the military.

In my work, time and movement become static — sculptural — through repetition. They are similar to the processing of trauma, where a past event is relived in the mind over and over again, without resolution, and in this way becomes cemented as a part of the person rather than an isolated experience. Ritual mimics our preoccupation with traumatic experiences: the same actions are repeated cyclically, the same objects take center stage. Indeed, people who have experienced trauma often create personal rituals that are intensely meaningful to them, albeit incomprehensible to others.


Dead Sea, Pioneer Works, image by Walter Wlodarczyk