ei zwei

Courtesy of Sheba Vohra

Artist: Jimena Reyes González

On September 20, guests stood outside The Cube, wondering what to expect entering the Ei Zwei exhibition by NYUAD senior Jimena Reyes González and fellow classmates, Hind Al Tantawi and Sheba Vohra.

Oct 1, 2016

On Sept. 20, eager guests stood outside The Cube in the NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Center. They wondered what to expect as they entered the Ei Zwei exhibition by NYUAD senior Jimena Reyes González and her fellow classmates Hind Al Tantawi and Sheba Vohra.
If the posters of daisy and fetus sketches dotted around campus were any indication, the exhibition was rooted in the idea of birth. At the center of The Cube, as NYUAD staff, students and professors soon discovered, lay a 5-foot-9-inch egg sheathed in white drapes, perched atop synthetic grass and dotted with white daisies. In line with the idea of creating a space for refuge, a palpable calmness fell over the space as Chinese tea was carefully poured out into warmed tea cups and various members of the NYUAD community took turns stepping into the structure.
The Creative Desk interviewed artist Jimena Reyes González to talk about the making of Ei Zwei:
What was the inspiration for the project?
During my semester abroad in Berlin I became interested in blanket forts, like the ones you build as a child, and in the sensation of being in them. There is something so comforting about it that I wanted to recreate. I worked on two projects, Blanket Fort I and Blanket Fort II, and installed them in different locations around Berlin. People really enjoyed spending time in them, often for long periods of time. The idea became a study in hiding, in finding spaces to take a break from the world and just relax. The Ei is essentially Blanket Fort III, in that way.
Why did you pick the egg as the shape of the structure?
The egg shape idea came from a visit to the Berlin Aquarium. They have a small room there dedicated to turtles. It was dark; the only light came from water tanks that lined the walls. It filtered through the water so it was really soft. It was intimate and cozy, similar to the blanket forts. In the corner of the turtle room there was a small plastic egg, no taller than a meter, that children could go in and out of to learn about the oviparous birth process. My friend and I went inside and ended up napping in it for close to an hour. There was something about the shape of it, how it hugged the space around you, that made it comforting. When we stepped out we felt we had just been reborn. I just wanted an egg for myself after that.
As I was building it, I thought more about the egg itself, and I tried to figure out what it was about that particular shape. I knew Dalí worked with the egg as a symbol of rebirth, so I looked into that. He actually spoke about how uterine life — the period of time spent in the mother’s womb — embodies perfect safety. Abandoning that safety for life outside the womb is painful, which is something that Otto Rank extensively studied. Rank spoke about birth as the first trauma we experience, and the lasting psychological effects it has. Dalí posited that life is basically a series of attempts to recover from the trauma of being born. It all fit together with the concept of the blanket fort. The egg shape came to represent a vessel, a proto-womb, if you will, in which to find rest from the chaos and anxiety of life and then to emerge, reborn, to face it all.
How did you pick the materials used in the creation of Ei Zwei?
The first egg, Ei Eins, which I built in Berlin, was made out of cardboard sewn with fishing wire. It was sturdy, but not necessarily like a blanket fort. Diffused light through fabric is one of the main elements of the blanket fort, and Ei Eins did not have a lot of that. Hind and I were taking a class in NYUAD’s woodshop last summer, around the same time we decided to create Ei Zwei, so it made sense to make it out of wood. We worked on different designs and settled on the octagonal ring structure that Hind rendered on the computer. It was perfect because we could then drape fabric around it, and have the right amount of light come in.
How do you feel about the process and the reception towards the exhibition?
It was the best. Ei Zwei was collaborative in a way that Ei Eins wasn’t. Sheba, Hind and I had so many amazing people coming in to help during different stages of planning and construction, and it turned out so great. Across the two weeks that it has been exhibited, people have reached out to each of us to tell us about their experience inside, and we’ve even had more than a few requests to purchase it. It has been beyond satisfying to hear about people enjoying the piece and finding a little peace. That is what it’s about.
Reyes Gonzales’ work was selected to be published as part of an ongoing initiative, run by The Gazelle’s Creative Desk, to create a space for student artwork. The Creative Desk publishes works selected by a rotating panel. We are looking for prose, poetry, photography, film, visual arts, music and more. Send your creative work to alyssa.yu@nyu.edu. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis. This week’s artist was featured by Creative Editor Alyssa Yu. Email her at feedback@thegazelle.org.
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