Although research suggests the ancient Venus figurines were created as totems of survival amid a changing climate, the enigmatic forms continue to puzzle historians, their exact cultural context and relevance unknown. The mysterious statues, with exaggerated physical features like large, distended bellies and generally plump appendages, recently inspired a playful project by Naama Steinbock and Idan Friedman, the designers behind Reddish Studio based in Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
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Titled “Venus of Jaffa,” the series interprets the prehistoric sculptures as lighthearted, impermanent forms. Each figure is structured with a thin, copper frame designed to hold a balloon. Once inflated, the latex—the studio used neutral tones to evoke both flesh and the original earthenware—puffs around the armature to form the supple curves of a female body. In a statement, the studio describes the works, which were originally shown at Jerusalem Design Week 2022:
This project is meant to spark curiosity while referencing both the archeological finds and the way they take part in our current culture with their bespoke museum displays… While the archeological Venus statuettes have survived tens of thousands of years, the new addition to their dynasty is only ephemeral and has the lifespan of a party decoration.