In the Studio with Maayan Weisstub

In the studio with Maayan Weisstub, a multidisciplinary artist whose eclectic works range from humour-inflected collages of the human bodies to conceptual installations reflecting on time and mortality. We met with Maayan to tell us more about growing up in Jerusalem, what inspired them to first pursue their artistic journey, and their greatest influences.

When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist?

I have always expressed myself through creative work, whether through painting, writing, music or photography. I think that at 15, I realized that this is basically what I want to do in life. Since then, I have created new works, continuously and at 22 I started to work as an artist: to exhibit, and to sell. 

 Where are you from and what was your upbringing like?

I was born and raised in Jerusalem until the age of 19. Jerusalem is a multicultural city at the heart of conflict, and some of my adolescence was in the shadow of security tensions. Both my parents were psychiatrists; emotional and psychological realities like dreams and fantasies, alongside sensitivity to the suffering of others were part of my everyday language. These influences are present in my works, mainly from a technical and emotional point of view.

Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. What inspired you to first pursue, and then continue to practice artistic work? 

As I noted earlier, I knew from a relatively early age that I wanted to be an artist, I took it seriously and persevered with my work. I opened an Instagram account at the age of 19: since then (and to this day), I upload almost all my works there. At the age of 23 I started to accumulate a wider audience on Instagram, people I didn’t know started responding and sharing my works, I think then I felt like I was on the right track. When friends and family reacted to the works, I felt they were “biased”, but when people whom I did not know at all became interested in my work, it was a kind of confirmation of a certain success.

What’s the message of your work? Where do they come from? 

I do not have a specific message recurring across all my work, the works deal with different topics and therefore the messages are varied. What may characterize the works is my point of view, it is unconventional and sometimes even challenging or cutting about reality, both internally and externally. I would describe my aesthetic as eclectic, it varies from work to work. My works generally present as complex, but the aesthetics are relatively simple and sometimes even “punky” or naive.

Who & what are your greatest influences?  

The main influences are from life experiences, whether experiences in my inner world (dreams, reflections), or encounters with the outer world (news, walking down the street, book, movie). My family and friends are another source of inspiration, the relationships and conversations with them

How important is the space where you work?

The space I work in is important for me, but I can adapt relatively easily to new workspaces, if I have privacy and a space for thought / creation. Sometimes I do not listen to anything and enjoy the total silence, sometimes I listen to music I love online – in the last months, Cleaners from Venus. I can listen to the same album over and over while working

What do you want people to take from your work when they view it?

I would be happy if people would feel something, anything when they encounter my work. Depending on the work, there are works that aim to raise awareness of a particular topic, and then I consciously try to think how I can provoke thought and a response from viewers, but in most works, I do not think directly about the audience while in the act of making it, but hope that as they come from an authentic (honest) place, they will find an honest place (response) in the audience.

What events in your life have mobilised change in your practise/aesthetic? 

I guess exposure to different artists developed my aesthetic attitude, I do not have in mind any particular event that led to a change in my aesthetics. I experiment all the time, it’s part of the creative process. I want to develop and challenge myself.

What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?

I cannot answer this definitively because it is (always) very different for me; the works are different and therefore the ideal conditions for their work are different.

Tell us about the inspiration behind  your works?

The self-portrait as a fountain is a tribute to Bruce Neumann’s work piece by the same name. In this work, I also play with the fact that the neck takes on a phallic appearance, and in combination with the milk (the “fountain”) creates an image of male ejaculation.

Something in the future you hope to explore?

I would love to explore the world of cinema and of art installation. I aspire to create installation works, as well as try and make short films.