"The Ladder" by Haimi Fenichel, Part 1 in a Series by Katia Rabey
A ladder. A simple wooden ladder leaned against the wall. What possible connection to casting process can this thing have? The answer is given by an Israeli sculptor Haimi Fenichel, who uses casting techniques in majority of his works.
Fenichel graduated from the Department of Ceramics and Glass Design of Bezalel, Jerusalem-based academy of arts, however, ceramics and glass are by no means his first choice when it comes to creating sculptures. Aesthetics of his work is inspired by early modernist architecture of Israel, by sand, mud, concrete and everlasting construction sites - and the materials he uses to create those works are inspired by the same things. This ladder we mentioned earlier – a simple wooden ladder – is not in fact wooden, but made out of sand, with a technique Fenichel was perfecting for years.
He started with creating an actual wooden ladder for his master-model. He didn’t want to buy one in the hardware store, as he wanted to keep the spontaneity of the construction site, where those things are improvised on the spot when the need occurs.
He then created an RTV silicone mold for each part of the ladder – but then an unexpected difficulty emerged. Earlier he was forced to abandon an idea of using plaster molds, as his sand-based compound was impossible to get out of there. Fenichel thought that using silicone ought to solve this problem, however it created a different one: the fine details of wooden texture were not duplicating properly with the silicone.
He spent months on tests and try-outs until he found a successful solution: using a strainer to sort of grind his sand-water-and-glue mixture through it, and then to gently press it to the sides of the mold, thus creating a hollow casting of highest precision.
It took Fenichel a total of eight months to complete his artwork, but the result was undeniably worth it: the original object, which represented functionality at its finest, underwent an artistic deconstruction to become an opposite of itself – a ghost of functionality, a fragile and delicate fossil of what once has been a powerful metaphor of masculinity.