Saturday, 12 November 2016

November 15th blog

      1. My video

As discussed with Andrew during our recent advisor meeting, and as I had written in my October 15th post, I had been thinking of converting my suggested sound piece project into a video.
I have sounds of Hitler’s speech and the interview I did with the Holocaust survivor, yet I wanted in my juxtaposition of Holocaust experiences also show images of right wing extremists demonstrating in Dresden’s streets. Since these new right wing extremists are now fighting against refugees from Syria to come to Germany, I had the idea to interweave an interview I had done with a refugee from Syria in Berlin in the spring of this year and show images of Syria and the war. I am playing with this idea and have started to put this together as a video piece. So I discussed this idea with Andrew and he said I should go ahead and experiment with that video.

Including the two-minute credit lines with some background information, the film is now 18:32 long.

What I am doing here and want to explore
Is to juxtapose experiences of the Holocaust to current events: Nazis and extreme right wing people in Germany protesting against accepting refugees of Germany. Show the situation in Syria of the refuges who came to our country. So I want to show newly arisen hate against foreigners, this time against Muslims in Germany and weave images and voices from our German Nazi past into those current experiences. Due to those new right wing extremists coming up in Germany, the authorities changed the law last year and it is not possible anymore for war refugees from Syria to bring their families. The two poems I am reading (in German) are reflecting on war and on the Holocaust. 

So this is not a public Tv documentary but since I am a MFA student, I am allowing myself certain liberties, such as for example overlaying the sound of a poem that talks about the one genocide, over images of a different war. But as we know, this is not only a civil war, also several ethnic minority groups are being oppressed and killed in Syria. So I do that deliberately.

I have had some feedback from Derek, Malvina, Gabrielle, Kayoko, and Jay. By some it was suggested that I put the translated text of the poems as subtitles in the video, but I have decided against it, because I want the images to speak. During my workshops in the summer Jean-Marie encouraged me to work with my voice, so I used it a couple of times (in German) in those films. If this video might ever be presented in a gallery space, the translated text of those poems could be provided in a different way….

Also it was suggested that I do not put subtitles over Fareed’s voice, but several people said they cannot understand what he is saying, so I thought it is better to put subtitles.

Material I have been working with:
-       I did an interview Fareed Abd Albaki, Refugee from Homs, Syria, in Berlin 2016
-       I did an interview with Dr. Peter Gary, Holocaust survivor, 1923-2016, you hear his voice in the film
- otherwise I used material I found on u-tube, but I am mentioning all of them in the end of the film

In between you hear the voice of Adolf Hitler, I am playing excerpts of his infamous ‘prophecy’ speech from January 1939 in which he openly announced that the Jewry of Europe will eventually be destroyed. (this is interesting because so many Germans after the war said they had no clue what was going on in the camps and didn’t know where Jewish people were taken and what was happening to them). 

The first setting in my video is the destroyed city of Homs in Syria, which I am juxtaposing to a sound piece I created.  I am reciting the poem Todesfuge (death fugue) by Holocaust survivor Paul Celan. In the poem which is full of metaphors, he describes life in a concentration camp in the face of death. The sound piece is a collaboration with NY composer Concetta Abbate. 

The next scene is at the closed border of Macedonia in the spring 2016 where solders are shooting at refugees. The rest of the film so far is, I think, self explanatory…..

So here is the piece, the password is ti16

It is important that you watch it in the biggest possible format, if you can listen to it via a headset, it would be even better.....

I would love to get your feedback on this, also I was wondering if there was a chance that I show it in NYC?

2. Paintings

a)    The structure piece
As discussed with Andrew in my advisor meeting, I wanted to add structure to this painting:

 I had started this painting with several layers of brush strokes and now, instead of overlaying a map, I would like to include a structure, like a building, the unfolding building of that factory that is now where once was the forced labour camp.

In order to experiment with those structures, I did not want to ‘ruin’ what I have so far, but rather wanted to work and experiment first with an older canvas. In that painting I had started with structure… I know I need to go opposite ways in the previous painting. Anyways, here is what I did:

And now, I think it is finished: here is the piece:

B) the concentration camp painting

As far as the black and white painting is concerned. Andrew asked me if it was finished and we decided that it was not finished. In a way, I have added the two layers of history, had zoomed in more, as I had planned. However, this does not work as a painting…..

….So what I did was to look up maps of all concentration camps and created a map on the canvas. Then, in order to add ‘structure’ to that painting I connected those camps with lines, of different colours. Which could represent kind of a system.

So here is how I approached it and

Here is what I initially thought was a finished painting:

But then,  I was really really frustrated with the result. I went back to my notes of the meeting with Andrew where I had underlined the words ‘go crazy’, so in my frustration I went into the black paint with my hands. And this is what happened:

So you see…..we really need to talk soon Andrew…..

Also, in the meantime, I had finished two plexiglass pieces that I had started in the summer, that talk about the Camp Moschendorf I was referring to they are....the white shape of the factory building today is on the plexiglass, the former Nazi camp buildings are the black shapes underneath the plexiglass. As I said, I only finished them recently but had started them in August already. I want to abandon the plexiglass, it makes the paintings too structured.....lets discuss please.

3.  Miscellaneous, art exhibitions, etc.

-       There was a review to my recent art exhibition at the Jewish Art gallery of Vancouver and the Jewish Senior Magazine just published an article (and cover) in their fall edition: The article is on page 24, there is also a link to an interview I had done with the Jewish Independent.

-       Here are some images of my art exhibition in Edmonton that ran from October 14th to November 7th.

-       My new German Gallery, Galerie Hoffmann Contemporary Art has invited me and my work to take part at the Cologne Art Fair 2016, which took place last weekend. Here is their announcement for the Art Fair. 

1 comment:

  1. Ira, this is such a great post. Before we even got to Berlin I was emailing you how much I liked your work, and it's great to see even more of it here.

    Re: the video, I already commented on that (and I support all your decisions in tweaking the piece--not that you need my "support," but you know what I mean). (You're right, having the text of the poem available as a handout would make sense and not have to lead to subtitles). My only thought right now is that what you're revealing in this documentary is doubly important in the post-election climate with this guy (I am trying to refuse to say or write his name for the next 4 years) as president-elect. All of the anti-semitism that'll be in the white house now, along with everything else. Many have been drawing comparisons between Hitler & his inner ring with DT & Bannon, Giuliani, etc. In some ways the comparison is problematic, obviously, and people are getting censored for it (at least one professor was let go recently for making the comparison in class). But in other ways I personally don't think the comparison is entirely off the mark. In any case, recent events have lent an entirely new layer of concern and urgency to your video.

    As for the plexiglass pieces, I find them intriguing, but wd need to see them in person I think to get a better sense of the layers, the physicality.

    I think your concentration camp painting has evolved in the right way--the added black clusters and finger streaks have introduced more depth (is that what you mean by "structure"?), anger, chaos, whereas the earlier versions of the canvas were quieter, with less depth or dimensionality. (I wonder though if the "angry" black parts want to lead off of the frame more--there's a sense of space running around the perimeter of this piece that still seems to control or contain the chaos of the added black. I'm wondering what a pinch more chaos might do (I'm sounding now as if this is some kind of soup recipe).

    BUT the most exciting thing for me here (aside from your exhibit, and the article, and the cover, etc etc--how really very exciting!) is the evolution of your "structure piece"--how it moves from the rather tame, early canvas (w/its deKooningesque pinks and squiggles) and then builds up to the radically altered final piece. Which I absolutely love. I would personally get a lot out of it if you were to give a presentation one of these days on the development of this particular painting, start to finish. That would be fascinating.

    (I'm still eager to have a conversation with you re: "structure," and all the different ways that term has meaning for you. And even if it relates, in some indirect way, to some of the themes you're exploring in your art...)