WAR WORKS: SONGS OF HOPE AND TREPIDATION, 1994-1996
It is the task of artists to recount their varied stories. This is my mother’s story which I am recounting as she ‘sits on my shoulder’. It is thus also my story and the story of millions of victims of war, then and now.
Written in pencil in the sealed railway car
here in this carload
i am eve
with abel my son
if you see my other son
tell him i
War Works is a mediation on time and memory, love and loss, brutality and the human dilemma and ultimately, on the indomitability of the human spirit. The images, titles and sometimes text are inspired by eclectic sources researched over three years. They shift freely across time, place and culture. Using photographic paper, photocopied images from my image bank and chemicals, the works were made without the use of camera, enlarger or darkroom.
Growing up as a child of European Jewish refugees in the immediate post-war years in Australia was to simultaneously experience a sense of safety and belonging and one of displacement and difference. My parents in their eagerness to establish a new life, typically tried to put their past behind them. My understanding of and response to WW11 was distilled from unspoken words underlined with complex sub-text, sited in Europe and in the Holocaust in particular. It is the task of artists and others to own and recount their stories. My task has been to give voice to those unspoken words thereby paying homage to my maternal grandparents who, along with millions of others, did not survive, and to my parents who did.
The relative ethnic uniformity of pre-war Australia has given way to a unique melange of culture, race and religion. It is the task of artists and others to own and recount their stories, to keep memory alive, to embrace difference and the richness of the potential exchange and to keep at bay the destructive forces of bigotry and fear.
Any Man’s death diminishes me because
I am involved with Mankinde
and therefore never send to know
for whom the bell tolls.
It tolls for thee
War Works: The Photograms
These works incorporate images from an image-bank researched and collected from eclectic sources over two years. I have re-used the images in various ways through several of the series within this body of work.
The Process: placing photocopies of the resourced photographs onto photographic paper and exposing them to daylight, I create a subtle but discernible negative image. After ‘fixing’ the image with photographic chemicals I have then worked on top the image in various ways using oil stick (In Memoriam) or photographic ink (Lamentation /Meditation) to evoke the feeling I seek to express. In some pieces, I have combined these methodologies and worked with or photographic and other chemicals on top of the photogram – (Any Man’s Death and The way of Sorrows)
War Works: The Chemograms (Songs of Hope & Trepidation)
The Process: with these works, using photographic & other chemicals, I am painting free hand directly onto unexposed photographic paper in daylight, which will quickly turn black. Thus working time is extremely short. As I am usually quite a slow worker, I found this both challenging and liberating.
SONGS OF HOPE & TREPIDATION, 1994-96
Primordial images of power and resurgence for me represent hope while images pertaining to race relations give rise to feelings of trepidation. These chemograms (photographic ink & chemicals on photographic paper), 60 x 50cm, collection the artist
POESIE DES ÜBERLEBENS – THE POETICS OF SURVIVAL, 1994
My maternal grandparents; a Holocaust memorial; my mother in my studio – behind her, in process, my collaborative work with Michael Baartz on the subject.
Photographic ink on photograms, each 22 x 16cm, collection the artist
ANY MAN’S DEATH, 1994
The cry is universal. These images make reference to the genocides during the early 1990’s in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and to the aboriginal culture.
Photographic ink& photographic chemicals on photogram, each 40 x 30cm, collection the artist
Neo-fascist marches and Viennese Holocaust victims. Photographic ink on photogram, each 40 x 30cm, collection the artist
WIENER JÜDISCHE MÄDCHEN
Viennese Jewish Girls, victims of the Holocaust, photographic ink & chemicals on photogram, each 50 x 40cm, collection the artist
LAMENT OF THE IMAGES
It is the task of artists and others to own and recount their varied stories.
In Memoriam pays homage to my maternal grandparents who, along with millions of others, died in the Nazi Holocaust.
This 28-part work, each 40 x 30cm (overall 180 x 210cm) comprising photograms reworked with oil stick, is based on images researched over more than two years from eclectic sources both here and abroad. Its source is deeply personal, its cry universal. Pinned directly to the wall, the work assumes a photo-documentary quality, reverberations of the placard, or edict, sites of propaganda, urgency, repression. The traces of the underlying photogram suggest the passage of time and make reference to the role of memory and history. In confronting the past, some form of reconciliation, even transformation, may emerge.
Re-using some images from my image bank – the reverberations of the placard become a lament or a meditation. Photographic ink on photogram, each 21 x 16cm, collection the artist
Ink & oil stick on photogram and colour laser copies, 14-part installation, each 40 x 30cm, collection the artist
KEYNOTE ADDRESS LISMORE REGIONAL ART GALLERY, 1995