Metamorphosis, the Vermin, the Epidemic, and the World

A Kafka-Inspired Virtual Exhibition by Yossi Waxman

One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armor-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked.

The Metamorphosis/ Franz Kafka
Translated by David Wyllie

At the beginning of the 20th century, the world was struck with a story of a man who turned into a vermin. Franz Kafka’s Gregor Samsa transformed into a bug and became a savage, a creature ruled by its most primeval impulses. He metamorphosed and turned into a penis-looking vermin and his life changed drastically, taking him to his inevitable death. A century later, the literary character that Kafka created is still one of the Western culture’s most influential metamorphosed hero. 

These 21st century days, the human world is obscured by another vermin – a virus that placed us all under house arrest. Today, we are all Samsa: vermin helplessly stuck in our rooms. The natural world, however, does not care about our disaster and goes on about its business: it brought spring to the northern hemisphere. Flowers are blooming, bees are busy, bugs do their things, and snakes crawl out of their burrows. Suddenly, just like that, Man was cut down to his true size and discovered he was not a builder and destroyer of worlds, but merely a small, vulnerable creature. And the world habitually changes from one mutation to another, from disaster to calamity.

Closed in his own house, Yossi Waxman had a creative surge and produced a series of computer works in just a few days: brightly colored collages that contain images of Kafka, American cockroaches, and erotic photos from his private picture books. In one work, hundreds of cockroaches close in on a writer agonizing at his desk. In another, Waxman (a known writer himself) watches the cockroaches swarm. He covers the repulsive and intimidating sight of the swarm with Warholic colorfulness. Making other pieces, Waxman isolated just one gigantic cockroach and pressed it against his own naked body. In this new series of works, Waxman returns to his earlier homoerotic pieces as well.

The new exhibition wishes to define our esprit du temps, the spirit of our exaggerated, raucous, mercilessly-changing times that contain a multitude of ideas and images that our minds and eyes can no longer contain, disgusting and making us sick to our stomachs. 

Yossi Waxman, Untitled, Digital Collage, 2020
Yossi Waxman, Untitled, Digital Collage, 2020
Yossi Waxman, Untitled, Digital Collage, 2020
Yossi Waxman, Untitled, Digital Collage, 2020
Yossi Waxman, Untitled, Digital Collage, 2020
Yossi Waxman, Untitled, Digital Collage, 2020
Yossi Waxman, Untitled, Digital Collage, 2020
Yossi Waxman, Untitled, Digital Collage, 2020
Yossi Waxman, Untitled, Digital Collage, 2020
Yossi Waxman, Untitled, Digital Collage, 2020
Yossi Waxman, Untitled, Digital Collage, 2020
Yossi Waxman, Untitled, Digital Collage, 2020

Video art based on the Exhibition