Yaron Michael Hakim : SELF-PORTRAITS AS A BIRD

Mother, you gave me the days of my own death.

You gave me the day because you could only give me what you are.

Since then, I live and die in you since you are love.

Since then, I‘m reborn from our double death.”




by Rosanna Albertini

Since birth and death are the edges of the same stretch of what we call life, I bring poetry here to fill the middle space with all the range of surprises I encounter every day as I struggle to find words to unfold the ungraspable mystery in each human, starting from myself. Artists spur me on this infinite search of meanings… We call them so, but they are just sparkles of life we dress with words as if giving them a form to share with other people. They aren’t clear when we experience them, clouds of sensations. 

“The words that matter most are the ones we don’t understand.”

“How will our lives be better if we entrust ourselves to mystery, rather than to intelligibility, to understanding?” ADAM PHILLIPS

Yaron Michael Hakim paints his own face becoming a bird. I don’t want to explain that. It happened to me that a few days after I met him in his studio, still stunned by the big human birds prisoners of a canvas that is wrinkled and irregular, a piece of sail made to catch the wind and propel the boat, I started to leaf through one of my favorite books, for no particular reason. I could barely believe my eyes: “Look at his face becoming a bird, Reb Elfer said to Reb Yod. And the squirrel trying to recognize himself in that face. Look at the face becoming a branch. And the branch blooming for the face… For us too, time of transparency will come.” Oh, Jabès, how did you know what I was searching for? I let these words simmer through my life for months. Transparency of these words is beyond the words, now I can see  the artist’s heart sailing the random winds of his life, in a marvel of wonder.

Two Israeli parents went from Australia to Bogotà (Colombia) to pick up a one week old boy. One of them was from Jerusalem the other from Haifa, but they grew up outside of Israel: mother in India and father in England. They met the first time in Ethiopia. Moved to Australia where they stayed for twenty years. Adopted Yaron’s sister from New Zealand. Left Sydney for a year in England then moved to Geneva, Switzerland. Yaron spent his adolescence there. At the end of an International High School he studied in the US, at the Maryland College of Art. Life was good until September 11th. He went back to Switzerland, hoping to save enough money to try New York one day. Lady life had different plans. He stayed in Geneva working in a Franciscan institution fundraising for human rights. Graduate school was in his wishful thinking. When he saw Paul McCarthy’s Parody Paradise in Munich his feet grew invisible wings: with no hesitation he landed in Los Angeles. His heart, in my fantasy, was fluttering like the wings of a humming bird. 

No surprise that he dug into his DNA testing multiple times, every time finding some numeric components impossible to explain, discovering an intricate texture of geography and human lives from which he couldn’t extricate himself. He found thickness, rather than transparency. Phantoms of ancestors in a space he can’t explore, proliferating over the void of eons of time. But traces of them operate hidden in the core of each of his molecules, maybe they never rest, names are lost, they multiply, create proteins, virus, oh my god how disconcerting it is to conceive our body as a secret chemical engine definitely out of control. Every body a different mystery. 

Yaron the artist paints in parrots a metamorphosis of himself almost unfolding his own personal state of nature, prehuman, reversing the evolution from the present to the past. A mythical time appears, something we conceive and spit out in words as if words were something that really was. Statistical precision (only apparently perfect) about personal DNA history kills the myth and the slow movement carrying the artist away from the present. Words, images, are only “brief little dreams.” 

“Myth is the name of everything that exists and abides with speech as it’s only cause. Whatever perishes from a little more clarity is a myth.” PAUL VALERY

Yaron needs to see as if his eyes were able to detach from their sockets, and observe the impossible: the fable of sailing what we call space, for the term void is scary.  The most striking bird he made is a boat shaped like the Pacific Islanders’ hand-carved boats. One of those boats that natives considered a living entity asking for respect and honor, a natural deity. The spirit of wood in unison with the hands’ desire. Yaron built it, gave her a name: Unutea, and left the seashore sailing under a pressure that was not only wind in the air, in big part coming from the unknown within him that is nothing he can visualize or think. In a word, he navigated the myth of myths, his own identity. Too bad, just a word. 

The journey is in the space between two spaces.” YARON MICHAEL HAKIM

THURSDAY, JUNE 13, 2013 From Newport Beach to Dana Point on a 22-foot outrigger sailboat built by the artist: UNUTEA

The spars are constructed out of bamboo, teak and Douglas fir. The vessel is steered by oars: one of poplar, mahogany and aromatic cedar; the other made with African mahogany and teak. The waka, (main hull) and the ama (outrigger) are fiberglassed marine grade plywood. The cross beams connecting waka and ama are made of African mahogany and Douglas fir. Hawaiian elder Thomas Kalama blessed UNUTEA with tea leaves before the first journey.

But words are a precious tools. They suggest, for instance, that transparency for humans is possible. Yaron the father can look through his baby son and see the sky.


Reb Isaac: “I listen to you, my son, and through you I see the sky.” Edmond Jabès, who else? My heart flutters reading his words.


Paul Valéry, The Outlook for Intelligence, Bollinger Series XLV, Princeton University Press 1989

Wallace Stevens, THE NECESSARY ANGEL – Essays on Reality and the Imagination, VINTAGE BOOKS, New York, ©1942, 1944, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951 by Wallace Stevens

Edmond Jabès, Le Livre des Questions, Gallimard, Paris, 1963

Gerald M. Edelman, Wider than the Sky, the phenomenal gift of consciousness, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2004