"Brick Wall #3" by Haimi Fenichel, Part 2 in a Series by Katia Rabey
Israeli sculpture artist Haimi Fenichel works mostly with materials one can find on a construction site. Sand, cement, concrete, simple mud – these are all integral parts of both his working process and his inspiration. He can build a ladder out of sand or to cast a pair of shoes in mud just to underline the fragility of these symbols.
One of his latest works – “Brick Wall #3” – is, however, a trickier subject for interpretation, as it is a wall built out of cement, the material used in millions of actual walls. There is no visible conflict between an object and what is it made of, the wall looks pretty much like a regular grey flat wall, so what makes it into art?
The answer is what’s inside. Fenichel uses the technique of hollow casting to create his sets of bricks. He started with picking up several standard 10 cm breeze blocks at the store, arranged them into sets of one, two and three and created detachable silicone molds for each set. He spread his special recipe of thick cement with a trowel onto flat textured walls of each mold and then, with cement still being wet, connected the walls of the molds with metal rods into sort of hollow silicone boxes, sealing the meeting-points with more thickened cement. He thus created a series of hollow thin-walled bricks with a worn-through, dented look.
He spread his special recipe of thick cement with a trowel onto flat textured walls of each mold and then, with cement still being wet, connected the walls of the molds with metal rods into sort of hollow silicone boxes, sealing the meeting-points with more thickened cement. He thus created a series of hollow thin-walled bricks with a worn-through, dented look. (See the entire ingenious process in the video at the end of the post.)
As actual bricks, these objects would be absolutely useless – they can’t hold anything, they’re fragile as porcelain vases and are full of see-through holes. The “uselessness” of the wall that Fenichel ended up building with these bricks creates contraposition between industrial and handmade, outside and inside, the looks and the meaning. A painstaking job that has taken roughly six months to complete produced something that helps us – quite literally – peek inside things we take for granted and at the same time renders them meaningless.
“It was such a ridiculous thing to do. Silly thing to do” – says Fenichel about creating his hollow wall. This “ridiculousess” however is exactly the factor that takes the bricks from a building supply store and brings them into a museum – or, in Fenichel’s case, an exhibition called “Cranes” in Mormon University of Jerusalem.