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Max Epstein


Max Epstein (from a video talk with Lena and Leonid Zeiger)

Lena Zeiger: Please tell me a little about yourself, about your arrival to Israel.

Max Epstein: I was born in Pskov, in the USSR. Pskov is a small, provincial town in North-West Russia, with numerous Christian architectural monuments.
I came to Israel in 1990, when I was 16 years old. Almost immediately studies begin and my adventures in the world of visual arts.
The first period in Israel was passed in a painful state of nostalgia for Russia. It was accompanied by Nihilism and Rock-n’- roll. Nowadays, I manage to transform this “disease” into a working instrument.

L.Z.: Does living in Jerusalem affect your art?

M.E.: In my opinion, the choice of residence is directly influenced by my provincial childhood, if by “province” we mean the outskirts of a certain center- existing or fictional. To be aware of its existence is probably impossible, since a provincial person becomes the center of his own microcosm.
When an artist understands this, he knowingly chooses to reside within borderline areas. This enables an external overview as well as a simultaneous possibility for intervention at any given moment. Various narratives are connected to each other, even if solemnly by their geographical space. I stand exactly at their borders, as an active spectator. Interestingly enough, the choice of my residence was not at the city center, but rather in one of Jerusalem’s outskirts- Ein Karem. This way, I live within the city and outside of it- at once.

L.Z.: How do you define yourself- photographer, painter or sculptor?

M.E.: The nature of my activity is rather hard to determine, especially when one takes part in the space of Jerusalem for so long. Jerusalem cannot fully determine itself. Indeterminacy enables a certain freedom in the choice of medium and incompleteness. Multi- media obliges one to obtain a few visual languages and the ability to cross from one to another. When one of the mediums exhausts itself, you switch to the other and rest this way.
For several years now, I do not leave the house without a camera, having said that, it so happens that for months on end it remains in my bag. For me, Photography is a function of fixating a state of mind- mental photography. Therefore, I photograph only when I feel an acute necessity to remember.
Lately, I draw more than ever. Photography is enough for a temporary fragment, but not for a space. Drawing gives enough time not only to fixate an image but to reside within a space, to identify a certain connection with previous experiences. It also allows you to put aside the psychoanalysis of memory and to clear space for work.
Therefore, photography begins at the moment when something that occurs reminds of you of something else. It is not pure documentation, though any photograph automatically becomes a document of reality. In my case, this is less important. Associative possibilities are of greater importance. Drawing- is an experience of interacting with reality and an attempt to formulate it.
I translate the result of both processes into the language of sculpture, re-arranging their experience into a working space. As opposed to photography or drawing, installations are born in the studio. It is a process of selection and placement of emphasis. In the studio I construct idealistic models of occurrence, connected to reality but exaggerated and morbidly grotesque.

All in all, I will call myself a sculptor..

Max Epstein (a conversation with Leonid and Lena Zeiger)
Jerusalem, 2013

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