Experimentals, Installations

Haifa Museum of Art, Israel September 2005


Daniella Talmor

The “Moving” installation was composed of a sofa, an armchair, a footstool, a table, a mirror, a bookcase, a bed, a small cupboard and a lamp. The shapes and the materials (plywood and solid pine) of the crates that housed each of the pieces of furniture complemented each other. When placed side-by-side or joined together, the containers appeared to be only standard wooden packing cases.

The real purpose of the containers can only be known when they are opened and the contents exposed. Two of the containers form the bases of the sofa, the armchair, and the bed. The rest become bookshelves, the cupboard, and the lighting fixture. The inside of one case is an upholstered two-seater couch; the other side becomes the armchair. Other packing materials have other functions, such as the lid of the armchair crate that turns into a padded footstool and the lid of the couch that becomes a coffee table with slender metal legs. The mirror is made of one side of the sofa’s crate; during transportation it is protected by the couch’s upholstery. The bookshelves are made of extra-thick brown cardboard cartons in various sizes. They need not be dismantled because they are screwed together to form a bookcase “puzzle” in which boxes of books are evocative of the loading and unloading of a cultural inheritance. The single bed is a crate inside of which is a sophisticated mattress with an electric mechanism. Also, there is a narrow cupboard for shirts, exactly the width of hangers. And the lighting fixture is wound strips of adhesive tape and is made from a box for light bulbs wrapped in newspaper.

Paul Auster’s novel Moon Palace (Viking, 1989) is one of Tarazi’s sources of inspiration. The novel’s protagonist is ignorant of the contents of the containers that were bequeathed to him by his Uncle Victor, an idea that so fascinated Tarazi that he conceived the notion of constructing furniture from packing materials, crates, and boxes – ones that might be required for short-term storage and transport. The ideological relationships that occur during change or moving is revealed through the conflict between rationale and emotion. The temporary versus the permanent is expressed in a visual and dual language that differentiates the exterior from the interior. In Tarazi’s “Moving” suite, the outer surface is rugged, to withstand rough treatment or pollution, while the interior is soft to radiate a sense of security and calm needed to establish a home environment with the illusion of permanence and tranquility in spite of being potentially transitory.

Tarazi says that in his world, “moving” means both “movement” and “the arousal of deep emotions”. The emotional links people have with places are torn during moving, and sometimes, when the emotional strength for renewing and reconstructing ties is lacking, there can be feelings of detachment, loss, and pain. Conversely, at other times, a disruption can bring a sense of relief, cleansing, a fresh start. When drastic action is backed by a fund of emotional resources, it may result in a great sense of release.

A research project, undertaken by Tarazi and a group of his students about culture and architecture, involved nomadic Bedouin tribes. According to Tarazi: “We discovered that the Bedouins, who were still nomadic until half a century ago, were not free radicals, as one might assume. They carried their possessions with them and created environments which were identical to those they had left. A nomad in a city can be just as free”. The point of the installation in which the home is “ready to go” also implies a readiness to move.


Plywood, solid pine, metal hinges, vinyl upholstery material.


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