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Mar 2, 2013

What the Hell is it?
(Knitted Sculpture)
 Today I want to share with you  my  profound  experience,
observing an art object
of a young Israeli artist – Gil Yafman.

Gil Yafman, Tumtum, 2012, knitted installation.
Photo: Elad Sarig.

In his somewhat enigmatic object, Gil Yafman  deals with serious
sociological and psychological  topics, wrapped in a colorful,
eye-catching and humoristic cover.
The Hebrew  name of the object - “Tumtum”, is taken from the ancient
Jewish theological codex, the Mishnah, and refers to a human being with
implicit sex organs, which makes his gender identification impossible.
(This is not the case of Hermaphrodite or Androgynous, who has  both
female and male  organs)
Gil is playing with words, because his work deals also with  another word,
linguistically related to “Tumtum”, which is “Timtum”, and the meaning is mental opaqueness,  denial of any unknown or new ideas.
Although the work deals with the social intolerance towards gender variations,
(with which the Artist is personally involved), it refers also to general human
intolerance towards the  exceptional.
Artistically speaking,
 what the hell is this wonderful assemblage of sex organs?

Gil Yafman, Tumtum, 2012, knitted installation, detail.
Photo: Elad Sarig. 

As we, the ordinary people, need definitions and labels, in order to decode
the chaos around us, (and in spite of the Artist, who opposes them…)
we cannot avoid asking this question…
Yafman, breaks through several artistic conventions:
The medium of the object is knitting.

The material is  wool and the technique is  basic one-needle knitting.
Both are far from being  traditional sculpture…
Not to mention knitting as a typical feminine handcraft…

Gil Yafman sees in the knitted wool  the softness, the flexibility and
 the warmth of a human skin. The monotonous and routine work of  knitting
 has a therapeutic and relaxing effect (I did experienced it, knitting in the past…)

The outcome - a soft sculpture -  is far beyond a conventional sculpture
and beyond  the usual knitted product!
Even far beyond this “knitted “ bus...

Gil Yafman’s Tumtum is “high” Conceptual Art, implemented by
“low” materials and  low images  which are accompanied by  vulgar and
embarrassing human  biological  sounds…

It is challenging  and astonishing and that  is its attraction!
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Speaking of knitting, I have found some wonderful works in Etsy shops:



Do you like Yafman's Tumtum?

Please write your opinion in a comment below.

Thank you,



  1. Hi Vita
    What a lovely post
    And the knitting is amazing!
    I really really liked it.(:

  2. Hi

    I like the bus. Would like to see more of them around.

    You can hardly see Tumtum is knitted even after knowing it.

    Knitted things usually gives you such a warm feeling but not here:)

    Do you have Jewels in that style? Maybe knitted jewels?

  3. Thank you for your comment.
    You are right! The photos of the "Tumtum" do not show its texture clearly. I got them from the museum, where it is exhibited. The artist did not allow me to make a video, which would show its great impact and would also record its sounds...
    As for my jewels, I do have bracelets made in Chainmaille technique, that is weaving with a metal wire.
    For instance: