L o a d i n g . . .

Tzelem  |   צֶלֶם

Tzelem is an ongoing project, titled after the biblical Hebrew word that appears mostly in the book of Genesis. Although tzelem has been translated to English as “image”, it has been subject to extensive analysis due to its exclusively religious context. Its first mention in Genesis 1:26 recounts the creation of mankind: “and God said, let us make man in our image”. In addition to Man’s so-called likeness to God, tzelem has also been known to reference idols– specifically carved, cut, or graven images. In the religious Jewish context, those tzlamim (plural form) are forbidden and have been subject to ritual destruction. Notably, within tzelem is the Hebrew word for "shadow" (tzel), but it also evokes reflection or mirror-image. Both shadow and reflection are intangible displays of likeness inherent within this concept.

For this project, Gottesman continues to draw inspiration from public standards. The images chosen as subject matter for her sculpture work are widespread symbols (or icons) intended to portray and categorize people according to age, gender, societal role or profession. She selected symbols that formally resemble headshots or traditional busts (sculptures), since they are both artistic methods of embodying identity– and at the core of the image/tzelem is the notion of identity. Therefore, in a way, her sculptural translations of these symbols behave as a collection of deconstructed busts.

Tzelem has a forbidden quality to it, as it also references idolatry. Since the notion of idolatry goes hand in hand with a history of iconoclasm ("image breaking"), this history inspires the fragmented appearance of the "busts" in this project. Finally, using video as a portal to her sculptures has allowed the artist to distance the object from its tangibility in a way that also echoes the concept of tzelem. These videos are simple recordings of her suspended wooden sculptures, yet they echo the appearance of 3D renders– this strengthens the illusion of intangiblity even further and distances these "busts" from their sense of objecthood.