Letters Home: along the 32nd parallel 35°east
In the summer of 2013, I am in Israel and the Occupied Territories. I am in unfamiliar places, yet they are familiar in a disquieting way. As a Shoah survivor's child, familial stories of migration and refuge are an assemblage of images lived in impossible times. The selected photographs presented here are diptychs and quadriptychs - a conversation between images, each marked at the local time, the moment in the everyday disrupted by photographing. The work includes a short film, a travelogue of sorts, a document of those constructing and re-constructing to affirm, to anchor. I am sure, though, the film is an internal projection of a brief time spent in the territories. The work has been presented as an installation with accompanying prose in the form of a letter to my second cousin, Margot Schoemann, a generation before me, because yesterday is ever-present and place events are too often interchangeable. For generations caught behind barriers, this is the impossible time. A brief discussion can be found in the site menu under "Essays"
Dearest Margot. I miss you terribly. The city is breaking. Every night, plaster crumbles. I turn down the bed sheets. The White City is falling. Construction cranes work through the night. The trains are expanding. At Lod, 50,000 cannot return. May 28. Today, I walk the same path as yesterday. I can’t tell how far away I am from where my body travels. She reveals there may be other paths. I am uncertain and walk the ones she tells me to walk. She is bounded. We talk. We are angry. We listen. She talks. She is angry. I hesitate. I want to create my life, she says. I am leaving.
Because they tell me who I am, but I am not who they say I am, I can. She is bounded. May 30. We drive to Beit Iksa. She tells me to put my camera away. May 31. With Hebron behind us, they talk. Three days later we return to Beit Iksa. June 3. In the car, she tells me to put my camera away. We circle around, and out and back, and past all warnings not to enter but we do because we can. We have papers. We are bounded. The village. The land. The sky. At the checkpoint, she unpacks flowering plants and vegetables. I hand my passport over. The soldier stares. We stare at each other. I am bounded. Did you feel betrayed? Margot. After they all fled and the killing began. The city no longer remembers. The sea is close and as blue as the one in the painting, in the book, you left behind.
For Margot Schoemann (Munich, Germany 04.11.1926 - Kaunas, Lithuania 11.25.1941) and all who followed. Performed as a walking reading with images (CAGE Gallery, Miami University, 2014).
2015, The Conversation and Inside the Green Line and Love in Ramallah, 4th Juried International Exhibition of Islamic Contemporary Art, LuminArté Gallery, Dallas, TX (curated by Salma Tuqan, Curator, Contemporary Art of the Middle East, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK), (photographs)
2014, The Children of Nablus and Checkpoint, New Directions ’14, Barrett Art Center, Poughkeepsie, NY, (curated by Lynne Warren, Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago), (photographs)