Israeli sculptress Ronit Baranga creates wonderfully unsettling clay sculptures that exist in a liminal realm where determining what is alive and what is inanimate is a hazardous guess at best. For series such as The Feast, Untitled Feast, and Breakfast, Baranga sculpted nimble human fingers and sensuously open mouths emerging from porcelain and ceramic tableware.

'The Feast', Ronit Baranga, 2014
‘The Feast,’ Ronit Baranga, 2014
'The Feast', Ronit Baranga, 2014
‘The Feast,’ Ronit Baranga, 2014

Baranga delights in turning inanimate dishware, both fancy and humble, into something visceral and unpredictable. When describing her tableware to Hi-Fructose, she said:

“I took the simple utensil- the utensil we take for granted, the passive utensil- and I gave it the limbs with which we use it. So, now the utensil is in a different place. It is active. It can decide whether to use itself, whether to allow me to use it, or whether to run away.”

'The Feast', Ronit Baranga, 2014
‘The Feast,’ Ronit Baranga, 2014

Self-aware and aware of its surroundings, Baranga’s surreal dishes and cups are active participants at mealtime. Sure, you’re hungry, but your plates are too. So dine with care or perhaps learn to share with your china, lest you lose a finger.

'Breakfast', Ronit Baranga, 2014
‘Breakfast,’ Ronit Baranga, 2014

Sitting down to afternoon tea sounds like a perfectly cordial and mundane event until the teapot starts to wander off, your saucer refuses to let go of your biscuit, or your teacup tries to kiss you.

'Breakfast', Ronit Baranga, 2014
‘Breakfast,’ Ronit Baranga, 2014
'Untitled Feast', Ronit Baranga, 2015
‘Untitled Feast,’ Ronit Baranga, 2015

In 2015 Baranga participated in Banksy’s Dismaland Bemusement Park project in Somerset, England. Her Untitled Feast was exhibited inside a small circus tent on a large wooden dining table surrounded by 10 chairs.

DismalandUntitledFeast05

DismalandUntitledFeast03

Assembled around the table, as though about to participate in the wayward feast, was a motley gathering of fantastic creatures, each created by different artists. Among their number was Damien Hirst’s preserved “unicorn” (The Dream), Dorcas Casey’s Dream Beasts, a taxidermy mount created by Polly Morgan, one of Scott Hove’s Cakeland scupltures, and Banksy’s own envoy, a rabbit sitting upright inside a magician’s top hat holding a broken wand.

'Untitled Feast' in the Circus Tent at Dismaland
‘Untitled Feast’ in the Circus Tent at Dismaland

Was Lewis Carroll born too soon or Baranga much too late? Either way, the Hatter’s tea party from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland would’ve been an even more chaotic and deranged affair had the guests included these 3 masked ladies and their dextrous china.

ronitbarangateaparty1

ronitbarangateaparty2

The odds are good this grabby teapot would’ve simply eaten the somnolent dormouse.

'Embraced, #1', 2016
‘Embraced, #1,’ 2016

Sentient tableware is only part of Baranga’s fascinating oeuvre. With an educational background in psychology and literature, she uses her relentless drive to create with clay in order to explore both herself and human nature on a larger scale, the intimacy of relationships, or sometimes simply to seek out the humor in the grotesque.

“My art expresses my life as it is at any given moment. It emphasizes my thoughts and feelings at the time. Some sculptures deal with feelings of lost or unused abilities – of which only the remains can be framed for display.” (Public Republic)

'The Border', Ronit Baranga, 2015
‘The Border,’ Ronit Baranga, 2015
'The Border', Ronit Baranga, 2015
‘The Border,’ Ronit Baranga, 2015

No matter what’s on her mind when she’s working on a sculpture, Baranga’s primary goal is to provoke an emotional response from her audience, be it positive or negative.

“Viewers of my work almost instantly react: they are either enthusiastic or appalled, but never indifferent. I hope that their harsh physical reaction stimulates them to think about the ideas and content that’s derived from my art.” (PUBLIC REPUBLIC)

'My Artemis', 2016
‘My Artemis,’ 2016
'I am a Jewel', Ronit Baranga, 2014
‘I am a Jewel,’ Ronit Baranga, 2014
'Grave Watchers' Childhood', Ronit Baranga, 2015
‘Grave Watchers’ Childhood,’ Ronit Baranga, 2015
'Unaware', Ronit Baranga, 2014
‘Unaware,’ Ronit Baranga, 2014

Visit Ronit Baranga’s website or follow her on Instagram or Facebook to view more of her provocative sculptures and keep up with her latest creations and upcoming exhibitions.

All images via Ronit Baranga.

Maika Keuben

Maika Keuben

Maika is a bird-mad bibliophile and professional seeker of all things eldritch and awesome. When she isn't buried in books and cats, creating tentacular curiosities, or building her witchy wunderkammer, she’s wandering forests, cemeteries, and beaches of the PNW with a satchel full of toy cameras and expired film, tossing peanuts to attentive crows. She's co-editor of Archie McPhee’s Endless Geyser of Awesome and can be found haunting Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and possibly the trees in your backyard.