Aviva - a Way of an Elephant
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant



Aviva - a Way of an Elephant, 2010, Sharon Glazberg
Black Milk of Dawn, HD video, 6:50 minutes
Infiniti Show Room, Rothschild 69, Tel –Aviv
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant, 2010, Sharon Glazberg
Infiniti Show Room, Rothschild 69, Tel –Aviv
Installation view
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant, 2010, Sharon Glazberg
Infiniti Show Room, Rothschild 69, Tel –Aviv
Installation view
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant, 2010, Sharon Glazberg
Untitled, 2010
Elephant bones, balloons, polyurethane, iron
Infiniti Show Room, Rothschild 69, Tel –Aviv
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant, 2010, Sharon Glazberg
Untitled, 2010
Elephant bones, balloons, polyurethane, iron
Infiniti Show Room, Rothschild 69, Tel –Aviv
Installation view
Aviva - a Way of an Elephant, 2010, Sharon Glazberg
Infiniti Show Room, Rothschild 69, Tel–Aviv
Installation view
Documentation of the digging, 2010
Safari, Ramat Gan
Documentation of the digging, 2010
Safari, Ramat Gan
Documentation of the digging, 2010
Safari, Ramat Gan
Documentation of the digging, 2010
Safari, Ramat Gan
Documentation of the digging, 2010
Safari, Ramat Gan
Documentation of the digging, 2010
Safari, Ramat Gan
Documentation of the digging, 2010
Safari, Ramat Gan
Documentation of the digging, 2010
Safari, Ramat Gan
Documentation of the digging, 2010
Safari, Ramat Gan
Documentation of the digging, 2010
Safari, Ramat Gan
|+|Aviva – a Way of an Elephant

Sharon Glazberg
Curator: Yael Yudkovik

The same week the ground shook in Haiti, at the break of dawn, in the Ramat Gan Safari, an old tractor startled the sound sleep of the rhinoceroses. A passerby could have thought there to be construction taking place, but upon drawing closer would find this thought to be mistaken. The hole in the ground that appeared as of nowhere, the size of a large car, reeked of rotting bones.

The artist Sharon Glazberg with the curator artist Yael Yudkovik, in collaboration with the Ramat Gan Safari and the Hebrew University, dug out a skeleton of a female elephant by the name of Aviva, that was buried there 12 years ago. The elephant Aviva died unexpectedly after a long illness, at the age 27.

Here starts a voyage that includes all of the essential elements that fascinates the artist Sharon Glazberg: progress of nature, culture and society. In Glazberg's work she often borrows from disciplines such as archeology and zoology, and incorporates them into her art.

It is hard to grasp the size and extent of the creature. We all saw the dinosaur skeletons in the various museums around the word, but the flesh and skin still stuck to Aviva's bones reminds us that this was actually a living elephant. Though more than a decade had passed, the corpse's rotting process had not yet come to an end. The glaring white which was hard to miss on the setting of the black bones, explained the zoologist, was, left over fat which was also the cause of the reeking smell.


A conversation between Yael Yudkovik and Sharon Glazberg:

Y: When I had first approached you, I had a strong feeling that you had the potential to do something big, unique and unconventional. I asked you to think of a fantasy, a dream you wanted to come true. You immediately replied with no hesitation "I want to dig an elephant out of a grave" A woman simply wakes up one morning, and decides that what she wants to do is to dig an elephant from its grave!
S: For years I have been dreaming of working with elephant bones as material for a new project. I have a desire to revive and resuscitate things.
Y: Every artist has a desire to give life to things, but I am not aware of any artist that chose to dig a big hole in the ground and bring out the corpse of an animal that has been lying there for over a decade.
S: Every time an elephant died in the Ramat Gan Safari, the ritual would repeat itself. I would call and ask what they are doing with a dead elephant. Do they feed it to other animals? Do they bury it? I soon found out that such large animals are buried and that there is a map showing where each of these animals had been buried.
Y: when I naively, called the head zoologist of the safari, and requested to dig out an elephant to create an instillation, to my surprise, the safari agreed to this.
S: One of the amazing things about the project was meeting with Dr. Amelia Trekel, the head zoologist of the safari, and the connection we had with the department for bones preservation at the Hebrew University. When I first went to visit this department, I understood the importance of giving the bones of the elephant to be researched in their department at the end of the exhibition. The specialty of this department is that they create 3D "puzzles" of bone pieces that are two million years old! When they get the bones of the elephant, they will have the real thing they need to compare and complete this puzzle.
Y: Do you remember the morning of February 17, when you dug out Aviva?
S: Of course! How can I forget? We arrived with the burial map, and the feeling was, that we were about to meet the unknown. Manny questions arose- What would we find? How does the elephant look? What state will the elephant be in? And then we started digging.
Y: The smell was very strong, an unfamiliar smell that went home with us that day and did not pass for several days. Only when the dig started we began to comprehend the extent of the event, the intensity of the operation.
S: During the dig I began to understand the phrase that was implanted by the Jews after the Second World War- “living earth” (originated from Polish). The same hole they used to toss bodies into, some of which were still alive. The earth used to continue moving. When the hole was open wide, we noticed that some parts that were supposed to be close to each other, were found far apart. There is life beneath the earth, movement, changes. We were all shocked. None of us had imagined that after 12 years we would still find remains of life, limbs that had not rotted.
Y: And not just any limb. The womb.
S: A theory arose among the people present that perhaps the elephant had been pregnant and that may be the cause for the preservation of the womb. It was an amazing sight to see the women digging into the womb of the elephant with their hands. All present were women - the diggers, the professional team, and the elephant Aviva.
Y: I walked around for days with the strong feeling which I was unable to shake, the extent of the deed. All actions seemed small in comparison to what I had witnessed. I recall the night before the digging of the elephant Aviva. It felt like a day before the funeral of someone close. You make all the preparations and try to picture what the funeral will be like. You feel like you are before an event you will remember for years. Prepare yourself for the departure. The hole, the dirt. We are used to a hole in which we put the dead, not one from which we take out bones.
S: A surprising situation. It is unclear what you are about to find. It’s like looking for a treasure.
Y: The day after was the photo shooting of you, putting together the elephant. You physically entered to her breathing area and breathed her breaths. In an act of performance, you brought it back to life.
S: The artist is performing as an artist in action. I preformed the ritual of resuscitation. I did not know what I am going to do with the bones until that morning. The dig was the collecting of raw materials. The video that documents putting the elephant back together is a kind of documentation of the way I work, like working in my studio. It is always a ceremony that I perform. During the assembling of the elephant, I felt like my grandmother at the end of the 2th world war, at the age of 12, when she left her hiding place and went to look for her parents in the forest, knowing that they were buried under her feet. Throughout the project I understood that the source for all of those actions were from those stories I heard from my grandmother. It was always there in my DNA, and now it was coming out in my work.
Y: In this project there are clearly aspects of things that are revealed and others that are hidden. The surface, and what lies beneath. Layers.
S: The walk in the forest is the search, and the dig is the desire to learn. I walk around with the knowledge that there is life under the ground. This thought is with me every day, all day.
Y: In the exhibition there is a video screening on the head of the elephant, showing a girl diving and connecting black balloons to a dead tree, underwater. A place with no air, no breathing.
S: Again, the surface of the earth and beneath it, outside the water, and beneath it. If you dig deep enough, you will reach water. I see the process in everything. I am joining this elephant at the end of its journey, which is the starting point of a new process. Lived, died, buried, taken out of the grave, fell apart, rebuilt, fell apart again, and then again rebuilt to stand in an exhibition. Dealing with the process of things is something that always directs and guides me as well as in the video- going back to water, earth and womb.
Y: The action of taking the elephant out of the ground, the video and the exhibition in general felt to me like a female act, motherly. The care, the removal from the earth- almost birth, your entrance into the uterus of the elephant. In the installation, the space between the ribs contains black balloons, like many breasts. This is a work that deals with life.
S: yes, all my works even if made with dead parts, are investigating life
Y: Aviva’s bones have been with you from the day Aviva was taken out of the ground until the exhibition was set up. Not every artist has bones of an elephant in their studio.
S: I was more amazed to find out that I succeeded to get an entire elephant into my car.