Slide Images

1 – Studio Inventory

2 - Studio Inventory (Detail 1)

3 - Studio Inventory (Detail 2)

4 - Studio Inventory (Detail 3)

5 - Studio Inventory (Detail 4)

6 – Studio Inventory (Detail 5)

7 - Studio Inventory (Detail 6)

8 - Studio Inventory (Detail 7)

9 - Studio Inventory (Heads)

10 - Studio Inventory (Feet)

11 - Studio Inventory (Steel/Stone)

12 - Studio Inventory (Heads)

13 - Studio Inventory (Detail 8)

14 - Earth Marks Series IV

Studio Inventory

Installation shots of the studio, photographed in late 2019.

As a child growing up in Mount Carmel, Haifa I collected earth fragments - seeds, pods, stones, worms, branches... I stored these in a small cave near my house and spent hours assembling and reassembling them and observing the industrious activity of ants whose habitat I invaded. Looking back, now I realize that it was my refuge from the world and a place where I held my own communion with nature and land.

The activity of collecting and gathering earth fragments continues during my travels and at home. At a certain point I realized that my studio had become akin to my cave and that the collections of organic fragments had become my inventory and language.

Once an object becomes removed form its place of origin it is open to interpretations and associations. By “drawing out” the objects, intervening, manipulating, assembling and reassembling them, a relationship between nature and culture are created.

Behind each organic object are traces of its metamorphic existence. Each fragment is a signifier - an object waiting to be captured. Out of these objects emerges meaning. At times I endow them with symbolic or metamorphic meaning, at other times they become transformed into “tools” (earth becomes pigment, stones and branches become tools, seeds become vessels and containers...). The inventory also draws attention to the concept of oneness and variety. A fundamental aspect is to try to capture meaning both individually and collectively.

Displacement and dislocation has been my experience. At the age of 11 my family moved from Israel to Montréal. It was an enormously painful experience for me. Through my work and life experience I have been able to understand the rich process of dislocation and relocation. "Lost in Translation”, I have been able to discover meaning in another language.

Implicit in the process of metamorphosis and of transformation is the element of time and movement. In the past I have used the aspect of time and movement in my work both perceptually and metaphorically. Using the moving camera, I have been able to deal with with these elements in a more evident way and at the same time emphasize the role of observation. Over the period of the last few years I have shot sequences which have become part of my language and of my inventory.

I am always in the process of devising means of assembling, ordering, categorizing, pairing, labeling and creating situations, which transform my inventory into my work.

“Ultimately, Sylvia Safdie’s work represents and becomes distilled reflection – an action of turning, bending and folding the object and its image in order to adumbrate its relationships, both external and internal, spatial and temporal, in the world.”

- Irena Murray, from notes on Sylvia Safdie: The Inventory of Invention, May 1977