Where Science Meets Art

Chen Flamenbaum
"Deep Water"
The Studio

At the hands of sculptor Chen Flamenbaum, the circular studio of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s artist residency program undergoes a transformative shift, evolving into a digestive system-like hub for the entire Institute. Rather than ceramics and easels, Flamenbaum introduces laboratory tools, materials, and a wealth of knowledge garnered from interactions with the Institute’s scientists and personnel.

“I ‘tear away’ standard objects from their lab context,” Flamenbaum explains, “giving them a new meaning within the fantastical space I am crafting. This space becomes a wild, intuitive, and creative collage that simultaneously retains strict order and internal logic. The objects, akin to words in an old song, are liberated to create a new melody.

“Heaps of old Petri dishes metamorphose into skyscrapers within a future city. A picture of a fly, captured through an electron microscope, transforms into a luxury garment gracing the red carpet. A graph depicting global warming emerges as the summer’s chart-topping sensation, broadcast across all channels. All these elements coexist within this new space.

“In an earlier incarnation, during high school, I was a geek. Immersed in the ponds of physics, mathematics, and computers, I hesitated to dive into the lake of creativity. Upon enrolling in art studies at Bezalel, I initially believed I was abandoning these realms to forge a new path from scratch. But the deeper I delved, sculpting various pieces, the more I discovered how ‘scientific’ knowledge surges from inside, rising to the surface, like small fungi on the ground that hint at considerable developments underground.”

Chen Flamenbaum is a sculptor and teacher of sculpture born in Mexico and raised in Tel Aviv. He holds a bachelor’s degree, with distinction, from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, and a teaching certificate from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His works are displayed in galleries and museums in Israel and worldwide, and in various collections. He has earned a number of accolades, including the America-Israel Cultural Foundation Award and the Cooper-New York Scholarship Award, and has served as an assistant to artists like Ofer Lellouche, Yael Frank, and Zohar Gotesman.

Reflecting on his residency at the Weizmann Institute of Science, he remarks, “Being a ‘visitor’ is an ideal position for an artist. Simultaneously inside and outside, it offers a vast and creative playground. During the months I spent and worked at the Institute, when I met numerous scientists and researchers; I felt I belonged. Though the conversations were not entirely foreign, the sheer abundance of knowledge within the Institute consistently surprised me. The passion and curiosity in the researchers' eyes captivated me, leading me to feel at times that what an artist does and what a scientist does are, in essence, one and the same.

“The lab showcased in this installation is a wild studio, a realm where a crazy artist hurls big questions at the infinite. The unknown expanse serves as fertile ground for both artist and scientist, with curiosity and passion propelling both their journeys.

“This realization inspired the creation of this installation—a celebration of the Weizmann Institute. I dedicate it to the wonderful and generous researchers who hosted me and who I met along the way. I wish us all that art and science, together, will create a world that is better, more colorful, and more beautiful for all the benefit of all human beings.”

The ceramic tiles shown were crafted be Weizmann Institute employees and scientists, in a master class led by Chen Flamenbaum.

The Artist Residency Program at the Weizmann Institute of Science is supported by the Braginsky Center for the Interface between Science and the Humanities.