This video was made for the exhibition Absalon, with a selection of the work he made in his six years as an artist. On view in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen from Februari 10th until May 13th 2012. Philippe Picoli was the assistant of Absalon.
Absalon was a French-Israeli artist whose star rose rapidly from 1987 until it suddenly burned out. He died in Paris on 10 October 1993, not yet 29 years old. Absalon was born Meir Eshel in 1964 in Israel. Shortly before his fourteenth birthday he was sent to a military boarding school before gaining a position in the ground personnel of Israel’s air force. A year before his military service was due to end, Absalon left the air force and retreated to a hut on the beach in his hometown Ashdod. He read philosophy, sold homemade jewellery and saved up for a one-way ticket to Paris. He arrived in the French capital in 1987. His uncle introduced him to the art world and from that moment on Meir Eshel called himself Absalon, after the rebellious son of the Old Testament King David.
Central in Absalon’s oeuvre are sketches, models and prototypes for six cells that should serve as his accommodation in the six cities in which he frequently worked: Paris, Zürich, New York, Tel Aviv, Frankfurt and Tokyo. These cells were not only designed for a specific site in the centre of a specific city, but were also tailor-made to Absalon’s body. He was 190 cm tall and compared the way he was able to move through the spaces with a dance. The Cellules were to dictate Absalon’s life, so he made then precisely for the kind of life he wanted to live: not as a hermit (hence their central location) but certainly alone, without relations, with a visitor now and then, a minimum of comfort and few possessions. In short: a life that runs counter to the stream of social and cultural developments.