I was born as a beautiful Jewish baby in 1977. Now I’m 1.83 meter/ 67 kg. I practice Yoga twice a week. I am Handsome. My legs are hairy. My first drawing as an adult was a remake of a picture I used to draw when I was 8 years old: a woman urinating standing up, while the urine drips from her into a small bowl, and drops of it are spraying into other bowls, and from there spraying into other bowls, creating a universe of bowls filled with urine.
We spoke to Yoash Foldesh through e-mail exchanges; Singapore- Tel Aviv. One of my favorite artists doing queer works, I remembered when I pitched his works as part of a group show, and the venue objected that his works are not art. 😦
Question (Q): Tell us more about the Wonderful Present exclusive saints club.
Yoash Foldesh (Yoash): The Wonderful Present Exclusive Saints Club was established in 2009. This is an open club – everyone can join for a regular fee of 78$. Every member becomes a saint and gets an original portrait of himself, created by me, as well as a holy area of patronage. The club currently consists of several dozen members. You can see their portraits at my website: yoashfoldesh.com. Many of our members are famous Israeli artists, fashion designers, journalists and business people.
Q: It sounds religious and the visual looks sexual. What is your take on religion and sexuality?
Yoash: In the Jewish tradition, 8 days after a boy is born his parents conduct a religious ceremony and cut his foreskin from his penis (ritual circumcision). After this surgery, and for the rest of the baby’s life, the harmed penis becomes a reminder for the covenant between him and God. The penis becomes a remainder that god exists.
Therefore, it is a good metaphor for mankind: blind, harmed, highly sensitive, and on the verge of exposition. God is everywhere, and so are penises.
Q: Tell us on your choice regarding the piece that I have just ordered from you.
Yoash: Kelvin Atmadibrata is the saint of the small houses. Atmadibrata has 4 blue penises, 9 fingers in his right hand and 7 fingers in his left leg. He is lying on the floor of his tiny house. He is naked. The entrance to his home is placed on the roof and is so tiny that it’s impossible to pass through it. He is calm, quiet and good looking. I want to lie next to him and illuminate his skin with a flashlight.
Q: Other than drawings, do you produce other forms of work? How is the contemporary art scene in Tel Aviv. We have Gerstein David’s works pretty famous here in Singapore, but little is known of the Israeli’s art scene.
Yoash: Besides drawing, I’m a writer. Servel years ago I published a childrens book (“The Last Yoash”), and for many years I used to be a journalist (I still writes, now and then, articles for magazines in Israel). Now days I’m working on a new book which will be out soon.
The contemporary art scene in Tel Aviv has a lot of good artists, such as Rona Yefman, Gil Marco Shani, Adi Nes, Tal R and many more.
Q: How about Tel Aviv’s LGBT scene?
Yoash: Tel Aviv is the capital of gays in Israel. The city’s annual pride parade attracts thousands of people from all over the counry and also from Europe (even though it’s boring and damn hot!). There are lots of gay parties, clubs, pubs and even a municipal center for LGBT – but I don’t go there. I prefer to stay at home.
Q: Are there any artists dealing with such themes?
Q: I noticed of Tel Aviv Pride which occurs annually. Despite so, are there any discrimination on LGBT community?
Yoash: It’s not easy to be gay in Israel, as it’s not easy all over the world. Most of the public in Israel is tolerant towards gays in one condition: as long as they are not Arabs.
Israel is an apartheid country: since 1967, there are millions of Palestinians under Israel occupation. The Palestinians don’t have any civil rights: Most of them even didn’t see the sea because they are not allowed to move freely.
The occupation takes most of Israel resources. So as long as gays are serving in the army and pay their taxes – they are allowed to fuck who and what they want.
Q: As for gay art, or let’s put it as works that are sexually charged or explore LGBT issues (which vary), how do the public see these works? I read that Robert Mapplethorpe’s have been shown in the Museum of Art in Tel Aviv. How was that?
Yoash: The contemporary art scene in Israel is very small, and most of the public do not intrested in it. But the public accept the fact that art can be arousing. Many artists are interested in exploring new concepts about sexuality through art, and they are doing it without any official difficulty or barrier.
Q: Are there state censorship when it comes to sexually-charged art works, ranging from visual, texts and moving images?
Yoash: Gays are popular in Israel. We are staring on TV and radio, and even takes a very impotent roll is politics. For the last 10-15 years there was no major censorship when it comes to sexually-charged works in Israel. It seems that as a nation we prefer racism on homophobia.
Q: Are there any major LGBT festival other than the annual Pride? Like film festival, exhibitions, etc?
Yoash: At the moment, all i can think of is the LGBT Film Festival which takes place every year.
Q: Zooming out to the macro scope a little bit, how is the LGBT scene in Tel Aviv, to be particular, as the capital of Israel?
Yoash: The LGBT scene in Tel Aviv is blossoming. We have the best gay parties and lots of gay shows, activities, gay artists and creators from all different mediums. We have as well a large community which keeps the awareness to the LGBT community needs and freedom of expression.
Q: Any last word for the LGBT community?
Yoash: Every year we grow more and more. I think that we are not far from the historic point when straights will be announced as a species under a danger of extinction. More and more people are relazing that being gay is the way that God want us to be, and it’s simply FABULOUS!!