Monday, 3 October 2016

October 15 Post

1. Using own body project

For my first project during this semester I wanted to experiment using my own body in my work. As I had also suggested to use my own voice for my sound piece, I wanted to investigate what it means to include myself as the artist in the work. After experimenting for a while with drawing and photos I have come up with this idea.

I am showing images of the shadow of myself and connect them to 12 sites of genocide of the past. I can bring the photos to NYC but here are some examples. 

Why did I use the look of social media? This is today’s world, people are used to spend several hours a day in social media, I wanted to use an image that is familiar to the viewer, yet, name the site and the year of the genocide. 

Why use my own body? I want to use it like a ‘tool’ for introspection. How do I stand to my heritage and my country’s past? What would I have done if I was living under the Nazi’s dictatorship? How would I have responded to and existed within the National Socialist government? Would I have stood up and risked my life or be a coward and shut up? What do I do today to prevent the killing in Syria? I want to inspire the viewer to think about his/her own role. How do we deal with these events today? 

I think to discuss this theme in this way is important for a nation’s psychological well-being in the process of going through its ‘Vergangenheitsbewaeltigung’, its coming to terms with its past.

So here are the images : I have printed the images as 10 by 15 inches prints 


2. My Soundpiece project: 

My recent (corrected) project proposal for the first year at Transart was a sound piece consisting of 5 sound loops. 

So far : a) I have edited the 2 hour interview I had done recently with Holocaust survivor Dr. Peter Gary to approx. 4.5 minutes during which he actually speaks about what happened in the camp. We were supposed to meet again in October, but unfortunately he died very unexpectedly two weeks ago at the age of 93.....

b)  I have recorded my own voice reading  Paul Celan’s  Todesfuge. 
Paul Celan was an important writer and poet after WWII. Born as Paul Antschel to a German speaking Jewish family in Romania, with his family killed in concentration camp. Celan survived the war in a forced labour camp. His famous poem Todesfuge, Death Fugue, is a depiction of concentration camp life. The poem was originally written in German. I can write down the text and the translation if you like, let me know. Here is the recording:
This is a collaboration with NYC composer Concetta Abbate which whom I had recorded French poems by Albert Camus (Caligula) when I met her during my residency in Berlin in January 2016. The quality of our recording is not perfect, collaborations usually happen for me on an impulse, that is how our first recording in Berlin came to life. 

Anyways: here is the piece:

c) Initially I could not get ahold of an official version of Hitler’s famous speech Die Prophezeiung, the prophecy.  I had contacted The House of the Wannsee Conferenz library, but they said I need to go to the Bundesarchiv. Anyways, I sent an e-mail and a letter, but have not heard anything. Now finally I found a really bad version (on Spanish TV) in the internet. the quality is bad, but I could use the sound, it is just really really bad quality.

d) Voices of the Wannsee Conference. As I know now, there are no original sounds of the Wannsee Conference, only a protokoll in which everything that was decided during the Conference is manifested. My idea now is, instead of the voices that are available by actors, to use the text of the Conference and let it scroll down a wall. (I have looked at Jenny Holzer’s work and yes, if I can figure out how to use a projector and let the text come down the wall and actually over the viewer in the space, I would like to do that……) 

e) I still need to go to Dresden and record the right wing extremists meeting every Monday night.

My thought now is, to not only reflect on current Nazis in Germany (and to juxtapose them to the experience of the Shoah with my pieces a-d) and their hateful politics about refugees but also to address the situation of these refugees in Germany , the culture of welcoming and the situation in Syria. Since I had started in Berlin to experiment with I Movie, I am seriously thinking if I should not transfer my first year sound piece project into a video??? Please let me know what you think.

The video would then contain excerpts and little pieces of all of the above and show images of war in Syria, demonstations of Nazis in Dresden, refugees etc. 

3. I-Movie Project 

I wanted to experiment more with I-Movie and put some of my photos (mostly only taken on my phone) of Berlin (during the summer and during my residency Jan to March) together with music. B/w might seem a little dark, however, I feel that the photos are stronger in b/w. 

The film depicts my strong and deep relationship to this city. It is my ode to Berlin

The piece is 9 minutes long! Please give me your feedback!

It is important to say that I only use my own images. The images chosen show my life in Berlin, where I lived in the summer and in the winter, what I see on my walks, my trips to the Haus der Wannsee Conference, to the concentration camp Sachsenhausen in the north of Berlin, my daily life, fleemarkets, concerts etc etc. 

As music in the background I wanted to use violin again : Passagalia in G Minor by Richard Yongjae O’Neill 

After reworking and rearranging the piece over and over again, I decided it would be important (at least to me) to bring some light (via images in colour) into the piece. Light as a metaphor for hope. Light as a metaphor for the positive, even if there are scars and even if the city has seen a lot of pain during its history. I have consciously held the piece very dark. Please let me know what you think. 

Here is the piece: 


4. Painting

I have moved into my new studio at the beginning of September……and I have started to experiment with a brush. So far, I cannot really present many finished pieces but rather can show some of my experimentation:

Out of all of these, these two paintings are finished. I just sent them to Edmonton last week. 

I would love to discuss these with Andrew in our upcoming advisor meeting. 

5. What else? Exhibitions/media etc etc

a) At the beginning of September an article (1/2 page) was published under 'Art to Collect' in Canada’s art magazine Galleries West, which is published in the 4 western provinces of Canada. 
Here is a link to the article:

The article about my work is on page 19…….

b) I will have an exhibition at THE FRONT GALLERY in Edmonton which opens on October 14th and will run for 3 weeks. 
The curator will also exhibit some paintings by Peter Doig and one painting by Daniel Richter.
Here is an Artsy link with some images:


  1. Hi Ira,

    Re: the shadow portraits, and imprinting your outline onto these sites--I'm intrigued. At first I thought you were literally there, at all of these sites. Then I figured, that just can't be--so, you're attaching the site to the locale where you took the photo? If you had actually visited these places to take the shadow portraits, that would've been fascinating. Assuming that this wasn't literally the case, I'm not sure how to think about the work.

    I do though think that there could be a lot more reflection going on with this. Obviously this issue of Vergangenheitsbewaeltigung is crucial for you, and runs throughout much (all?) of your work. There are stories there in that which might be good to explore further, and give us access to maybe?

    Re: your reading of Celan--I think your voice is perfect for this. I'm listening to this again after watching the video, and I think still that the music, fine as it is, maybe competes with your own voice (and the intriguing echo accompanying it.) I'm also wondering too what else you might want to do with your voice, and the text. Layer mutliple recordings? Let the language begin to stutter, or degenerate, or repeat? What if you were to listen to your voice abstractly, as music, devoid of literal meaning--and recut, rearrange, rework the recording as a sound piece? (Just thinking out loud.)

    Actually, now that you mention Jenny Holzer (I've loved her work for the longest time), and the bad recordings of Hitler, etc etc, more and more I'm wondering if it might be of value to take a lot of this recorded language--your own, Hitler, others--and explore ways of mixing, mashing, remixing, sampling all of that. (Are you familiar with John Oswald's plunderphonics?) Of course, this would require a great deal of time and effort just to get the technology down--and you've done such a good job w/the documentary, I'm thinking it might make sense to keep going in that direction before getting pulled into yet a whole new technologically demanding arena...

    As for the last video, here I think the music works well, and the b&w photos are lovely. I have a request (I'm not joking): put together a 1 minute version of this, keeping the Transart images and other enticing shots of downtown Berlin, and then send it to Jean Marie, Andrew, Cella, etc, inviting them to use it on the TI website. I think it would only help the program (personally, I find the videos used throughout the TI website overly heavy re: the performance work done in the program, w/not enough focused on non-performance work. That's why I was drawn to your shots of TI presentations early in the video. I think too it would be good to sprinkle images of other museum sites and the fantastic city in general--and bundle it all up into a 1 min, or at the most 90 sec, video. I think this is exactly the kind of promotional material the program needs to attract more students...


  2. As for the paintings, they're thrilling. (Interestingly, I think these have more of your bodily presence than anything--the gestures are so dramatic, and confident; it's easy to visualize you working w/the brush.) The ones I'm personally drawn to (here on my laptop anyway; to see them in the flesh could be a whole different experience) are #s 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and then others later on (I lost count) that are more white, with the slashings and mappings more obscured. Overall I love how you're very explicitly working as a cartographer of sorts, routing and delineating and directing the painting field. I also see very real connections between this work and your ode to the city of berlin--your focus on streets, architecture, and how that video presentation, again, creates its own map. (I have two books here in my office, Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer, by Peter Turchi, and also The Map As ARt: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography, by Katharine Harmon; I think you'd like both of them.

    (Also, is there any way to follow your postings on the blog? If so, I haven't figured it out. I'm only seeing these today and because you mentioned them in the email; I wd've responded sooner if I'd known this was up there.)

    Such a wonderful, multimedia output of work so far this semester. Plus the gallery shows, and everything else. You're raising the bar for the rest of us, to be sure...