At first viewing, the wall sculptures of Naama Tsabar's Works on Felt Series—made of felt, carbon fiber, epoxy, a guitar tuner and a single piano string—exist as austere objects, artworks that nod to the sculptures of Robert Morris or to the shapes of Ellsworth Kelly. Once touched, Tsabar’s Works on Felt cross the threshold into instrument; the strumming of the piano string or the beating of the felt is amplified by a contact microphone and outputted by an amplifier.
Like many of the artist’s pieces, Works on Felt both subvert a power structure and simultaneously reveal the unseen. In this case, historic male minimalism – known for its anti-expressionistic authority – is imbued with the participant’s musical expression and physical body on the felt: a material that is usually used to damper and absorb sound. Whereas minimalist ethics abide to a ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ notion of literalizing either the object in the room or the paint on the surface, Tsabar departs from that idea of ‘transparency’. Concealing the carbon fiber, the artist manipulates the felt material to uphold the tension of the piano wire, while still making the felt appear materially unaffected. The work’s ability to be played like an instrument further highlights the gallery space as an active structure rather than a neutral background.