CHASE THE FOOTPRINTS
Monday, 16 June 2014 | Divya Kaushik
Israeli artist David Schocken has been travelling across the world, collecting stories through random objects, like cans used by soldiers during the war 100 years ago. He tells Divya Kaushik that his objective is to trace identities
Probably none of us would have ever pondered on any similarity between Hong Kong airport and Lakshman Jhoola in Rishikesh. But such comparisons come easy to David Schocken. He has shot a video of people moving on an escalator at the Hong Kong airport and a still of Lakshman Jhoola. “The common factor between the two is they are just the places to help people move from one place to the other. People come in a rush, they pass some time and then move on. It is this feature of rush and randomness that makes these two places similar,” explains the Israeli artist. Both, the video and a still shot, have taken a form of an artwork displayed in an ongoing exhibition titled Heritage at The Instituto Cervantes. The exhibition is being organised by the The Embassy of Israel and The Instituto Cervantes.
Be it number of sim cards displayed in a neat row or just a piece of paper describing the term ‘temporality,’ every object in the exhibition is something David collected over a period of time. He says that the objective of treasuring these objects is to document the stories that they narrate.
“Through these objects I want to share that we care less for things that we leave behind. We are not thinking enough of what heritage are we leaving behind us, just because we are so engrossed and busy managing our own lives. The sim cards that you see here are from the different countries where I stayed in last few years. You can see another piece of paper, sourced from Google, tracing my movement in different parts of the world. Through your phone Google traces your movement and when I saw these details, everything appeared like a maze connected with few dots. It denotes confusion. It explains how we are moving from one place to another in a fast forward mode. We do not enjoy life, we do not take note of things or people around us. We ignore objects and stories around us and therefore most of our lives have become meaningless,” shares David, who also stayed at Shantiniketan for a period of time. He travelled extensively during his stay in India and says that his train journey from Kolkata to Cochin was the most amazing experience he ever had. “For over 54 hours I was travelling, meeting different kind of people, observing how habits, nature change with the change in geographical boundaries,” he adds.
His works that do not adhere to the norms of conventional art, also describe the changing definition of relationships in the modern world. Therefore, there is even a piece of paper describing ‘temporality.’ “The term is described as the state of existing within or having some relationship with time. It is interesting to note that the usage of this term has increased over time. Today most relationships come with temporality. You can also see an expensive kettle and cup hanging in the air like an installation. This was gifted to me by someone in the family. It is very expensive but so fragile that the moment I poured water in one of the cups, it broke. It became a medium for me to convey how fragile modern relationships are. The threads that join the cup and kettle denote the thin line that needs to be maintained in a relationship. The day it is broken, everything falls apart,” he shares. The picture of a woman, unknown to David, is “the most important part” of the exhibition. He neither has met her nor knows who she is. “I found the photo discarded on the streets of Jaffa. It is a piece of someone’s family inheritance, so I have kept it with me,” says David.
David also went to the deserts of Israel to collect tins, once used by soldiers during war, 100 years ago, “just to treasure the heritage.”