“The ‘unrepresentablence’ of the Holocaust can only be acknowledged by creating a narrative hybrid that interweaves both events of the Holocaust and the ways they are passed down to us” –James Young, At Memory’s Edge (2000)
How can a filmmaker or a video-art artist approach an historical catastrophe that had already been the subject of numerous works of art? How can one create a work that might shed a new light on a trauma that took place many decades ago? Is it acceptable to use humor, provocation and satire when dealing with such a sensitive topic which could not be detached from its political implications?
These questions has already shaped the contemporary discourse on artistic depictions of the Holocaust in the past few decades. This evening, however, will not deal directly with the genocide of approximately six million European Jews during World War II; Instead we will be looking at four recent works that try to invent new ways to deal with the historical specters of the Holocaust without reutilizing visual or thematic clichés. These provocative and often amusing works invite us to rethink the representation of national traumas and personal pain.
We will be showing the following works:
Program runtime 63 minutes
This work examines the expectations from the artist and his ability to create work with meaning and value. Ziv interview his family and friends in an attempt to create a meaningful work of art, a creation that has the power to shape and influence the pantheon of the collective memory.
“One by one, Ziv tears a part the cliches of representation of the Holocaust undeniable serious cinema that runs “the way it should be done”, the brain-washing that is already part of the audio–visual universe, the historical and psychological of each individual. He mocks the Zionist-Hollywood mainstream, which get exposed in this wonderful film, in its full hollow occupation of the mind.” –Galia Yahav, Haaretz.
Rona Yefman documents long-term collaboration with an 80-year-old male Holocaust survivor who has assumed a feminine persona in both body and mind. Wearing a non-expressive female mask, a blonde wig and tight sexy outfits, Martha challenges the conventional perception of an elderly man and tires to defy the Jewish trauma myth. In this video Martha acts as a real diva by trying to control every aspect of the process: the pose, the shooting location, the outfits, our interaction, and ultimately refuses to reveal her/his bearded face. The video in which she stars, addresses the myth of the power relationship between model and photographer. Although hiding a painful soul and living in a hard core reality, Martha represents a radical departure from conventional parameters. Her persona exhibits so much contradiction that it defies the viewer’s ability to create a concrete assessment of her intentions.
With wry humor, Tamar Latzman explores the nature of memory – real and fictional – by recalling five dreams in two different modes. Derived from themes of twentieth-century Jewish-European history, the artist describes memories of various dreams she has experienced. At the same time, on the second channel, the same dreams are presented in a quiet and poetic way, absent of people. The work observes the relationship between spoken language and text, and raises questions of identity, collective memory, and cultural stereotypes.
Mine Carp by Tamar Latzman, Israel 2012, 3 minutes (US premier)
Carp is a kind of fish use to make Gefilte-fish, a traditional Jewish food. This short work is a fictionalized memoir of an Israeli woman’s secret mission for the JFC (Jews for Carps) organization.
Itay Ziv is an Israeli artist, photographer and scholar. After earning a BFA in photography from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Ziv moved to Amsterdam and attended the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten/Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science residency program. His works had been shown in Van Gogh museum and Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, the Jewish Museum of Munich, Kuva Gallery in Helsinki and numerous other venues.
Ziv currently attends the Phd Art Doctoral program at the Finnish academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki.
Rona Yefman was born in Israel and currently lives and works in New York City. She received her MFA from Columbia University in 2009 and her BFA from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design (Jerusalem) in 1999. Yefman is the recipient of the Ingeborg Bachmann Scholarship established by Anselm Kiefer and awarded by the Wolf Foundation to a young Israeli artist, the Gerard Levy Prize for a young photographer from the Israel Museum, the Lotos Club Award (New York), the 2009 Rema Hort Mann Scholarship, as well as grants from The new Israeli foundation for cinema and television, 2004, Artis and Smack Mellon in 2010, and the 2007 New Creation award and 2003 Young Artist Prize from the Ministry of Education & Culture.
Her 2011/12 solo exhibitions have been shown at Sommer Gallery (Tel Aviv), Derek Eller Gallery (New York), The Sculpture Center (Long Island), and Participant Inc. (New York).
Yefman’s work has been featured in ‘Art Forum (2012 and 2009), Art n America (2012), Modern Painters (2011), The New York Times (2011, 2010, 2008), The New York Times Magazine (2008, 2007), and Frieze (2009).
Tamar Latzman is an Israeli artist based in New York working mainly on still photography and video installations. Latzman recently received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts’Photography, Video, and Related Media Department. She is the recipient of Shpilman Institute for Photography Grant for Individuals, Israel, 2012, the recipient of the Nerken Scholarship Fund of UJA-Federation of New York (2009, 2010) and the Sharet Scholarship (2004-2005) for young artists from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. Latzman explores social memory and cultural stereotypes through questioning different types of boundaries: between the still and moving image, past and present, and between textual and visual. Her work creates fragmentary texts, collections of moments enmeshed in a personal and lyrical world touched with a hint of humor. Her recent work, “Awake,” was shortlisted for the Most Promising Artist prize at the Fresh Paint Art Fair in Israel and was shown at Video DUMBO (DUMBO Art Festival, 2010), and the Jewish Museum in Hohenems, Austria in 2012. Currently, she is artist in residence in the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Swing Space residency program.
Neta Alexander is a graduate of Columbia University’s School of the Arts and an associate programmer at UnionDocs. She has recently earned her Masters’ degree in Film Studies, writing a thesis on cinematic depictions of suicide. She also holds a B.A degree in Comparative Literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.
For the last two years she has been working as a cultural correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz (Haaretz.com; Haaretz.co.il), covering screenings, festivals and art exhibitions in New York and Israel.