When Tal Avitzur sent me in photographs of his robotic sculptures I was so excited, they made me smile, delight washed across my face, I was intrigued and thrilled to be looking at pictures of bizarre bots that stoked the fires of my inner child and rekindled my admiration for anyone who can use their hands to turn junk into beautiful retro sci-fi objects.
Sometimes – when you read a brief synopsis of someone’s artistic life on their website – you get pulled into the fatalistic belief that their life experience, their trajectory from where they were to what they make, was an inevitability, that what they create is the only manifestation of who they are. This is of course a deception yet, when reading the little I know about Avitzur and his art, these retro junk found-object sculptures seem the most likely outcome for a man who has a boundless interest in science fiction, mythology and comic books, studied maths, worked for sculptor George Rickey and ceramicist Beatrice Wood and enjoyed using junk he found in salvage yards to do up his own home. This love of DIY, the old, the unwanted and the used, led him into a world of his imagination, a place in which he was able to indulge his love of sci-fi, craft, of a process, of making, of a playful creation that is born in the rubbish tip of our consumer obsessed world.
Avitzur’s wonderful robots remind us that there is beauty in everything, that all objects have an aesthetic value and with time and care we can refashion the world in our own image, make it more human, an individual expression of our imagination, a place that refutes mass commercialism and instead embraces the ordinary and the banal. Here’s what he has to say about his work:
During a very extended remodel of my Santa Barbara home I began searching metal scrap yards for brass, bronze and copper objects to embed in a planned concrete kitchen countertop. I was amazed at what I found: vintage vacuum cleaners, floor polishers, kitchen appliances, tools, lab equipment, and many things whose original use will always remain a mystery. I knew that if I did not take them home they would be smelted and lost forever. Thus began my obsession with collecting retro junk. It did not take long for the search for parts to expand to auto and marine salvage yards, constructions sites, swap meets and even the curbside. Oftentimes parts appear at my front door thanks to friends who indulge my odd habit.
Each piece begins with finding the personality in an object, then test fitting combinations together, and cutting, drilling and grinding until reaching a natural-looking fit. The workshop bench usually has a few different projects going on at any time. Sometimes, sculptures need to be put aside for months while waiting for just the right salvaged part. Making these one-of-a-kind, whimsical, found-object sculptures has allowed me to indulge my passion for creating art, while giving new life to discarded objects, and perhaps preserving a bit of industrial history. I enjoy the excitement people show when they recognize parts that have been re-purposed into their new incarnations.