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    The clay's the thing

    "Studio," a theatrical offering at the Fringe Festival, presents a half-hour peek into the artistic process with a sculptor, a model, a musician, and a video camera.


    There's a lot going on in the theater-art performance called "Studio," but the heart of it is a simple idea: giving us a view of an artist (Eytan Ronel), a model (Noa Hyman), and a work being created. A sculptor and a nude model come out and get started on what they do — she sits comfortably on a platform, ready to be sculpted, and he pulls out a slab of clay and gets to work. Meanwhile, a musician (Eran Sachs) gets behind the sound board and activates the music and other multimedia that make up another dimension of this performance.

    Music by: Eran "Zax" Sachs.
    Sculptor: Eytan Ronel.
    Model: Noa Hyman.

    Related links: Official site
    To make it more theatrical, there's a projection of the walls of artist Eytan's own Jerusalem studio during another session with model Noa. (Those who remember a little of their bar-mitzvah Hebrew may notice that the video is reversed, but aside from the labels on the numerous shelves, there's nothing in the scene of artist, model, sculptures and studio that looks amiss.) In voiceovers, the two comment on the artistic process. And then at some point, Noa will pull out a video camera and start filming the process from her own vantage point, from shots of the artist at work to uncompromising closeups of her own body, all of which are shown on a monitor on stage. So the artistic work of "Studio" can be looked at many ways — besides the prerecorded elements, it produces both Eytan's sculpture of Noa making a video and Noa's video of Eytan making a sculpture. (Which is not entirely artifice, as we see that Noa sometimes draws or paints in Eytan's studio while modeling.)

    What we learn from watching this happen for half an hour is indistinct, but I've never seen this process in person, so it's certainly a new experience. And what made sense of the whole effort for me (an art neophyte, honestly) was that the three participants stuck around for questions afterwards, shedding much more light on what was going on. My questions:

    To Eytan, how was today's sculpture different from a similar one that he might have done in the previous show? Answer: The sculpture is a result of the moment and a response to what the model is doing. Sometimes she is playful and busy, other times serious and still, so each sculpture is a spontaneous collaboration between the two.

    To Noa, who says in the video, "You can't move and you have to sit still, which is perfect for people who are always in motion," so what is she thinking about while she sits? Answer: Any number of things — today it was her boyfriend. (Sorry, fellas.) But the most important thing is having this chance to rest her mind — modeling becomes like a weekly meditation. You should do it too, she says.

    AUGUST 21, 2001

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