Natush and Klone’s excellent adventure

Sharon Raz, documenter of Israel’s abandoned structures and street artist Klone, defacer of Tel Aviv’s decaying facades, take an artistic road trip that turns nostalgia on its head.

Some artistic collaborations are fated to happen. A shared passion can bring together two artists working in different media and with markedly different aesthetic styles, yet with high regard for one another — and the resulting work can be even greater than the sum of its parts.

And so it was only a matter of time before Sharon Raz, architect and author of Natush (“abandoned”), a blog devoted to documenting decaying mid-century modern structures around Israel and graffiti / street artist Klone, whose work appears on so very many of those structures, embarked upon a joint campaign — each in his own unique way — to make their mark on the abandoned military manufacturing plant at Beit Dagan.

For over 40 years, Beit Dagan produced military vehicles for the IDF until it was evacuated in 2001. An environmental report from 2009 ranked Beit Dagan 10th out of 1,200 locations in Israel with dangerously high levels of industrial pollution. The site effectively became a ghost town — right in the center of the country.

Raz had written about Beit Dagan a few months ago but says that, as always, there were changes to see on this trip, “…and there are always changes. More crumbling. The things that happen.”

“In most places around the country where I wander, there is almost no street art / graffiti  as it’s rarely seen in the periphery [of Israel's outlying areas]. But right in the central region, Tel Aviv, Haifa, etc., there is there is quite a lot today. Sometimes street art is just that, out in the street and not necessarily related to the issue of abandonment [of buildings]. Sometimes you find it hidden deep within abandoned areas and buildings, where I experience this art as if it was there just for me, as if I’m walking around a fine arts gallery by myself.”

“Our joint campaign was planned for a long time but on Saturday [January 4, 2014] it finally happened. I picked up Klone and his girlfriend, who is also an artist, and took them out of Tel Aviv. The weather was great and everything worked well.”

“I chose two locations that I had already photographed, both because they were big and interesting, and also because then I could concentrate, for at least part of the time, on Klone’s creative process and photograph that from my point of view.”

“What was interesting for me was to see how Klone would choose on which wall and which structure to draw, and what to draw and create on them. I was not disappointed.”

“I’ve know Klone — or as he’s known in the art world, Klone Yourself — for a few years. I won’t reveal his real name or show you his face. He is a young man, modest and nice who, in my personal opinion, is transformed into a great artist the moment he holds paint of any kind in his hand and not just spray paint.”

The trio continued on to the second location, the now-defunct country club at Azor where Klone breathed new life into poolside sunshades that had been toppled and left for dead.

When the work was finished, it was signed by the artist, whose first US solo exhibition opens February 1 at the Anno Domini gallery, San Jose, California.

The full photographic portfolio of the project — along with much more documentation of Israel’s disappearing mid-20th century architectural heritage — can be found on Sharon Raz’s blog, Natush. Visit it, “like” and share. 

All photos are copyright of Sharon Raz and published by permission.

About Rachel Neiman

A veteran media professional who has lived in Israel since 1984, Rachel has been part of the ISRAEL21c organization since 2008. Prior to that, she served as managing editor of Globes Online, the English-language edition of Israel’s leading business daily, and before that, at The Jerusalem Post, as a business reporter, feature writer, and consumer columnist. Rachel began writing about Israeli technology companies at LINK Israel’s Business and Technology Magazine and is a professional Hebrew to English translator. In her spare time, she is an active member of the Havurat Tel Aviv congregation, and the Holyland Hash House Harriers, part of an international running and drinking disorganization.