Disposable aluminum trays. Not your typical artist's canvas. But then again, Idan Friedman is not your typical artist. Not only is he rather daring, using such unorthodox material as his canvas, he is also exceptionally talented. For his latest project: 'Profiles', Friedman embossed beautiful, detailed portraits of people he knew onto disposable aluminum trays. The results, part grandiose historical medallion, part everyday kitchen supply, emphasise the difference between tradition and modernity, disposabilty and lasting value.
Idan Friedman: First of all, thank you for your kind words. I am happy that you enjoy my work.
Bulb in Blue: You're very welcome Idan. We loved your 'Profiles' piece. Could you tell us a bit about how you made these portraits?
Idan Friedman: The portraits were made with a few tools and a lot of patience. I mostly made my own tools and worked directly on the aluminum. I worked slowly and it was a process of trial and error to find the right technique. I would like to point out that the craft by itself was only the means to make a statement and not the goal of this project. There was no intention to make a decorative object, but to use the technique for its cultural context and references.
BiB: Who were the people and why did you choose to draw them?
Idan Friedman: Most people that are featured in the project were already part of my everyday life, but I didn’t have any meaningful interaction with them until then. In order to make the portraits I took pictures of those people on-site, in our natural meeting place, and that was one of the things I enjoyed most in the process. It was fun to break the routine and to start a different kind of interaction. The aluminium portraits were done in my studio, where another kind of intimacy was formed with my models. Let’s just say I know some people’s ears better than their mothers.
BiB: The image of a detailed profile on metal calls to mind medallions and coins, usually featuring celebrated, well-known figures, yet you featured ordinary people. Why did you choose to present them in a traditionally heroic style?
Idan Friedman: I featured the people exactly as they are. When you see them in the new context you might see they have a heroic side to them you couldn’t notice before, or, on the other hand, you might think that those people from old coins and medallions could have been quite ordinary. I wanted to play with our misconceptions of value, importance and beauty.
BiB: The most striking thing about these portraits is the juxtaposition between the cheap, mundane canvas and the skilled, intricate artwork on them. Do you think that in today’s world, there is too much focus on expensive materials and fancy technology, and less on the true value of art?
Idan Friedman: I don’t think this is typical only for today’s society. It has always been easier to appreciate things that are considered expensive then to develop a personal taste or an independent sense of beauty. However, I do feel that although there are forces out there pressuring people to appreciate and consume certain things, the internet and social networks are becoming a strong alternative to those forces. These alternative influences affect everything, including art, and help people to think, act and get creative. Your great website does exactly that.
BiB: Thank you! So, as an artist, do you always use less traditional materials? Because as much as we love aluminum disposable trays, we wouldn't usually associate them with fine art.
Idan Friedman: My partner Naama Steinbock and I have a design studio called Reddish where we love playing with different materials and techniques, because we get bored easily. We don't always use non-traditional materials, but there is a constant search for new ideas and concepts.
BiB: Breaking away from the norm and trying 'new ideas and concepts' might involve quite a big risk. Do you ever fear that things might not work?
Idan Friedman: I may sound corny (which is a big risk), but I think that if you just do what you like best, and then share it with others, there is no real risk.
BiB: A great motto for artists reading this. Most people will recognize aluminum trays as things they use once and then throw away. Do you find that in today’s society, with its disposable culture, there is no longer a place for things of real, lasting value?
Idan Friedman: On the contrary, I don’t see our culture today as disposable, only a bit confused and restless from all the changes going on. What's more, I think nowadays we must have a place for things of real lasting value.
BiB: We see the Profiles piece has only been exhibited once before, in Israel. Is there any chance you will be exhibiting it again, maybe, over here?
Idan Friedman: Since this was my first solo exhibition, I am new to the art world. I would be happy to exhibit the project in other places; I just have to figure out where. and when. and how.
BiB: Well, we wish you all the best. Thank you for talking to us today Idan, and good luck for the future. To learn more about Idan Friedman's work, visit his studio's website: http://www.reddishstudio.com/ or to see more of the 'Profiles' portraits see his Flikr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/idanx/
Thanks to Dan Lev studio for the photos.