joshua neustein texts
J.L. Borges & Pyromania
by Sarit Shapira

Neustein returns to the pyromaniac complex, or in Bachelard's terminology, to the Promethean Complex, as that desire, or primordial motive to violate the taboo of the primeval father. In the work Transfer, he takes his art completely out of any political context and links it directly to the artistic field, to the field of display par excellence. In this work, Neustein burned a sheet of glass, burnt it to such an extent that the sheet of glass looked like black bright velvet. He set the glass in a baroque gilded frame, with a flavor of a bourgeois object, and hung it in a museum. If the fragile character of Neustein's work has been mentioned earlier, then in the burning glass he makes it present again, the vulnerable materials, the glass and the fire, emphasized the fragility. The museum visitor, puzzled by the nature of the surface, touched the material and upon discovering it was soot, transferred the black on the wall... there-by violating the norms of conduct in the museum

In regard to STILL LIFE The Burning Airplane Installation: If we will call to mind that Neustein appropriates to himself characteristics of an ethnic collective which is foreign to himself, as well as turning his action towards a vehicle which signifies foreignness, then we can say that he is doubling, multiplying the element of foreignness in his work. We can further say that he is turning the act of foreignness into a tool which signifies the foreignness. That is, the aggression in his work is not only adopted from within an action of a cultural collective which is foreign to him, but also the act of aggression is turned towards the tool of the foreigner. The foreignness turned on itself is perhaps one of the central ideas in that event of Still Life. The foreignness which is duo-bled in the work, is multiplied and turned against itself, takes the work out of the political context, not only directly but out of the political context in general, and can turn that foreignness into an aesthetic principle, the principle of aesthetic distance.

Sarit Shapira in a talk for the film Terrain, Elisabeth Benjamin Production 1989.