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Research for the Full Crypto-Taxidermical Index



concrete, wax, latex, cotton wool, Ceiba insignis fruits, dry grass, soil, salt, wood, glass, metal, fluorescent lightbulb, dry coral, crab arm, porcupine quill, dry seaweed, avocado pits, cement, dry beetroot, empty silkworm chrysalis, resin, acrylic, pigments, dry leaves, aquarium, water, oxygen stone, Acrilan, Plasticine, Birch plywood


 250 x 240 x 165 cm


The work was made for the occasion of the exhibition Shelf Life, 2010, Haifa Museum of Art

Curators: Tami Katz-Freiman and Rotem Ruff


Cabinets of Wonder in Contemporary Art: From Astonishment to Disenchantment, 2012, Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art

Curators: Dalia Levin, Daria Kaufmann and Ghila Limon


Photos: Elad Sarig


Double spread at NY Arts magazine, fall issue, 2010


NY Arts magazine, fall issue, 2010 (web version)


Review at Midnight East, Angela Levine, 1.3.10


Review at The Jerusalem Post, Art section, Graham Lawson, 26.10.12


Review at Midnight East, Angela Levine, 13.9.12


Review at Haaretz, Culture & Literature supplement, Uzi Tsur (Hebrew), 11.10.12



Curator's text (Shelf Life): 


Tomer Sapir's collections constitute a kind of creative incubator, crowding his studio like a metaphorical subconscious or lexicon of images. These collections undermine familiar systems of classification that distinguish between nature and culture. His work Research for the Full Crypto-Taxidermical Index (2010) highlights the twilight zone between these two categories, fosters ambiguity and questions other prevalent dichotomies such as those between good and evil, male and female, life and death. The hybrids that fill the display cabinets in this work, just as theyfill the shelves in Sapir's studio, are mutations suspended between the organic and the artificial, the seductive and the threatening. Alongside strange objects composed of plant-like substances are fossils, silkworm chrysalises, porcupine quills, stones and rotten, cracked fruit pits. It is impossible to know whether these artifacts were gathered in nature, or whether they are bodily organs or painstakingly created artificial imitations. Like an alchemist in his lab, Sapir examines the overlapping of biological and synthetic elements and attempts to come up with the chemical formula for combining them. His collecting revolves around the gathering of various types of objects that are integrated into his sculptural works, while undermining nature and melding life and still life, reality and imagination. The arrangement of his "collection" in drawers and cabinets is reminiscent of natural history, pre-history or archeology museum displays, yet the absence of a classificatory principle and the intentional deceptiveness undermine any attempt at coherence or order. The term "crypto-taxidermy" alludes to the embalming of animals that do not actually exist, such as a cross between a rabbit and an antelope; it further underscores the suspension of Sapir's work in the twilight zone between nature and artifice - the habitat of mythological, imaginary and cloned creatures.


Tami Katz-Freiman


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