The artist, who was born in Jerusalem in 1980 and currently lives in Berlin and Manchester, is known for his minimalist, extremely precise transformations of everyday objects. He first strips these objects of their original function and then, through his radical artistic interventions, enables viewers to see and experience them in new ways. All of a sudden, what was once familiar looks unexpectedly different.
One sculpture, many interpretations
Ariel Schlesinger designed the sculpture for the forecourt of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt as part of an international competition. The work consists of two cast aluminum trees, one of which is rooted in the ground. The other, turned on its head, appears to be supporting itself in the branches of the first tree with its roots extending skyward. The idea of making a double, mirror-image tree into the symbol of the Jewish Museum was inspired by the history of Frankfurt’s Jews: by their feeling of being both connected and uprooted. It also goes back to images in various Jewish sources, such as the kabbalistic tree of life that reflects divine creation. An additional point of reference is the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible, which describes the special connection between God and the people of Israel using the metaphor of a tree: "And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish" (Ezekiel 17:24).
This video documents the production process of the sculpture and Ariel Schlesinger explains some of the ideas for his work "Untitled".
Through the symbolism of the two trees, the sculpture by Ariel Schlesinger establishes a connection between opposites, between permanence and transience. On the one hand, this work has a conceptual character. After all, throughout the production process – from the selection of the tree to the copying of its form – Schlesinger had to make sure not to damage the real tree, a fig. On the other hand, the concrete realization of the idea – the aluminum cast – transforms the work into a traditional sculpture.
The artist has not offered any further explanation of his work and has deliberately called it Untitled. The sculpture invites interpretations and gains a certain poetic quality as part of this process.
On September 18, the sculpture was unveiled at an end-of-summer festival. Further information is available here.
Andreas von Schoeler, retired mayor, board member of the Friends and Patrons of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt
Professor Mirjam Wenzel, director of Jewish Museum Frankfurt
Dr. Ina Hartwig, head of the Cultural Affairs Department, Frankfurt am Main
Dr. Eva Atlan, collection director and curator for art and Judaica, Jewish Museum Frankfurt
Erik Riedel, curator, Ludwig Meidner Archive, Jewish Museum Frankfurt
Dr. Jessica Beebone, Department for Art in Public Space, Cultural Office, Frankfurt am Main
Dr. Emily Bilski, freelance curator, Jerusalem
Dr Susanne Gaensheimer, director of the North Rhine-Westphalia Art Collection
Michael Hootz, City Planning Office
Per Pedersen, Staab Architekten GmbH
Dr. Oliver Strank, city councilor
Dagmar Stefan, MuseumsBausteine Frankfurt GmbH
Untitled was created with the generous support of the Rothschild family and Professor Klaus Mangold. The international art competition for which Ariel Schlesinger designed his sculpture was made possible by the commitment and dedication of the Friends and Patrons of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt.