joshua neustein texts
On the Status of Bubble Wrap
by Gideon Ofrat

What is there in Bubble wrap? In Hebrew there is not even a definitive word for it Pak Paz? PakPak? Nylon Suds? What is actually the name of this material, that offends me when it attempts to be a surface to make art? Where does the revulsion come the moment bubble wrap ceases being a wrapping for art materials and becomes part of the art itself?

It has been ten years since Neustein paints maps on bubble wrap. Before the bubble wrap the maps on paper and rust metal . In Venice the gigantic bubble wrap sacks penetrated through the skylights into the soot room. The Bubble wrap contained glass shards..(suspended the bubble wrap maps from cranes.)

There were also glass sheets that preceded the bubble wrap It seems that the sheets of glass were evicted to give place to the soft translucent palimpsests of bubble wrap.

In the same ten years, Neustein's engagement with hard valuable crystals (on chandeliers and by themselves) props up a material and conceptual tension with the transparent, sparkling, elastic bubble nylon. Essentially, the subject is a synthetic wrapping material lacking any presence (attendance) The protuberant (bulge) pointillism is nothing more than spheres of air (gas) encased in thin light weight nylon that exhausts quickly. An easy pressure on the surface immediately sounds the pop-pop of the stuff. Pop fart that leaves you with vacuum.

Duchamp "painted" on a big glass, Neustein, more radically, paints on non-materialized surface. More precisely: When he chose to paint in acrylic on the obverse side of nylon bubbles surface (in the tradition of glass painting) he cancelled from the nylon the status of pictorial surface and allowed it's facet of transparency that protects and wraps.. In actual fact the drawing painting is bereft of any surface, the image of the map floats behind the nonmaterial. Is there a more radical collision (juxtaposition meeting) possible between the practice of painting and concept --which is the idea that is hypothetically free of all material realization? As is his way, Neustein is roused (catapulted spurred) by the immanence of pictorial components of the painting practices. He takes them apart and puts them together again. His Bubble wrap is catalyzed by glassy painting, that has undergone a material transformation to a material of exchange value of capitalist society. Salutations from "Pop Art", that is embedded also in Grid tradition due to the mechanical infinite of bubble structures. Pointillism, hinted at above. the apotheosis of the retinal / rational painting. All the loaded cargo are wrapped in this most anti-auratic (profane) material that I may possibly imagine.. By comparison even the sacred tradition of painting on plywood practiced in Tel Aviv still retains auratic memories of wood paneling art, organic matter, nature. Arte Povera? God forbid, this is nonmaterial by way of concept. Bubble wrap has no memory. It is an unalloyed function of wrapping for transport; which in it's current (existing) valorization is intended to ideally wrap and transport content laden representations i.e. a map image. --- It seems that the painting itself that one on the paper or on the canvas etc., disappeared, eluded, was made absent. In other words: the art work disappeared someplace in transit. What was left was merely the image and the wrapping. A failed deployment.

To the "low" luster of the nylon bubbles respond as averred, the crystals (as a cluster in chandeliers, as a chain or as single gems ) the crystals signify the "high" -authoritative, empowered, , a source of "light" (in the ------ meaning, of Foucault's Kitchen and affluence. Not as the shoddy bubble wrap which is relegated to the humdrum one dimensional mass of it's bubbles. To crystals belongs the power of union and uniqueness, the individual and the collective. In Neusteinian transformations from History to geography ("How History became Geography" 1990)

-from space to time- as topographies and territories change into hierarchies of conquered and conquerors (Occupied and Occupiers) exploited and exploiters. Also materials and anti materials insinuate hierarchies of crystals and shreds of bubble wrap. Or gold an silver versus green acrylic or brown etc., pigment. Equally, Neustein's bubble wrap references European and Middle Eastern colonial conquests, references imperialism and borders, references migrant workers (as in the current show) and by the way foreign laborers. It is worth noting, on the migratory status of these workers as a equivalent formation to the transience of bubble wrap. And even parallel the transparency the lack of presence of the foreign laborer as the transparency of the nylon

The bubble wrap: it's large bubbles hang limp on the wall framed and cart (bear) images By all means compare the bubble wrap in the grand tradition of wall paintings from palaces to the Bourgeois houses) on wooden panels from the fixtures of cathedral altars... up until the contemporary use of plywood as pictorial surface; compare to canvas and paper etc., in order to dilute any semblance of metaphysics, theology organic physicality, the natural the humanist the previous mediums had additional functions as apparel, as cloth, as writing on paper, and ore and more.. while to bubble wrap there is only one purpose to wrap for transit and to cease being..(become rubbish ) The Bubble wrap is all discomfort, inconvenience, totally a voiding of entitlement, totally a self negation (erasure) The bubble wrap attracts attention but at the same time disrupts observation by it's special "noise". In other words the bubble wrap is not in it's place , whose real place is in the packing stage only. The exhibition of the works cry out : remove from me the temporary protective layer ! An unsolicited visitor, disguised. And look at his the feeble shoulders who carries no less that the whole world -the Atlas. Yes, I have finally understood here, what repels me from bubble wrap or pak pak or Nylon bubbles -that is even difficult to find for it, a coherent name.

Gideon Ofrat, curator, art historian and theoretician, has published 25 books, among them The Artistic Judgment (1978), 100 Years of Art In Israel (1998), The Jewish Derrida (2001).