Legacy – Persia 02

I wrote this narrative for the show at Propeller Gallery for my Persia 03 piece. The theme of the show was Live Longer – Piss of your heirs.

Persia 03
Persia 03 from the series Tapestry

The Persia series is an offshoot on my original series called Oculus. I discovered that I was able to use the elaborate patterns and textures of Persian carpets to create my signature pieces.

In my quest to find more Persian carpets to photograph, I have learned that these carpets were made from memory, handed down from one generation to the next, and that each type of carpet comes from a specific region, specific city or town and sometimes even from a specific tribe. They come with these exotic names which represent their location which also reflects the style and colours of the carpets.

I first learned about the Tabriz but then came quickly familiar with Esfahan, Nain, Bokhara, and Qom, which specialized, in the intricate work of silk. The list of names and regions seems endless.

I became obsessed with this “art” form which has spanned thousands of years and hundreds of generations. Shortly after some initial photoshoots, I bought my first Persian carpet. It’s a Tabriz but with a lot of blues – very uncharacteristic for that style of carpet.

After a few days, I thought, to which daughter would I bequeath this beautiful carpet in my will? I have three daughters. I came to the quick conclusion that I most certainly will have to buy at least two more carpets so that each daughter could have one to remember me by. I have officially become a collector.

Persia 17 detail

 

Gebetbuch Triptych – Passover meets Easter

As Easter and Passover overlap on the last day, there doesn’t seem to be a more appropriate time to post this narrative I wrote for one of my pieces that was in the Propeller Group show, entitled:  Live Longer and Piss Off your Heirs.  Guest curators were Olga Korper and Taiga Lipson.

The idea behind the title was…

Olga: Getting old is not for sissies.

Taiga: Rage, rage against the dying of the light!!

Olga: Artists, if your oeuvre were to be represented by one work, what would it be?

Taiga: We want to see your perspective on life practices and superstitions and bad habits and secret victories. What’s your personal prescription for living longer?

Olga: Freedom is more important to me than almost anything else, and that’s what we’re offering you here. Make a choice that best represents your thoughts, your creativity, and your soul.

 

I came up with the idea after I heard of the show.  Thank you to Frances Patella for making me aware of it and for the opportunity to voice something that has been sitting with me for years.

BERLINER NEUE SYNAGOGE TRIPTYCH – GEBETBUCH
EDITION 1/6, 11” X 27”
ARCHIVAL PIGMENT PRINT ON EPSON HOT PRESS BRIGHT

Gebetbuch has a tremendous personal significance for me. Both my parents were German immigrants. I grew up immersed in German culture, the German language and basically, the idea of Gemütlichkeit; however there was also the dark cloud of the Nazi era. I still find it difficult to reconcile that perhaps some of my now-deceased relatives back in Germany could have had their part in this dark history. Even complacency was taking part.

Nine years ago, I met Simon, who is now my husband. At my first visit, I asked him about a picture of the synagogue that was hanging in the living room. He really minimized its importance and told me he was non-religious. Months later, I discovered that he had been raised in an orthodox home and went for ten years to Hebrew school. Although he was not religious, he was very much culturally Jewish. Months later, I asked him why he renounced his heritage so casually. He told me: “I wanted you to like me.”

That line shocked me. Why wouldn’t I like him?

left-Berliner-Synagoge-Triptych---Gebetbuch-Edit-Edit
Detail from ceiling inside synagogue

Years later, we took a trip together to Germany to visit Berlin and see the sites. We saw the beauty and richness of Jewish culture and learned of the former Jewish intelligentsia that existed in pre-war Berlin. We also saw the horror of how the Nazi’s tried to annihilate any trace of the Jews. The Holocaust museum and the Holocaust memorial certainly left an impression on both of us Yet the strongest impact made upon me was when I first saw and then entered the Neue Synagoge.

Beautifully restored on the exterior and in some parts of the interior – here was a place of worship of a religion that is thousands of years old and the Nazi’s tried to raze it to the ground. However, it has survived and flourished once again, although protected by security since, unfortunately, there is still anti-Semitism.

right-Berliner-Synagoge-Triptych---Gebetbuch-Edit-Edit
Detail from ceiling inside synagogue

 

In this synagogue I was able to see how the two cultures melded at one time. The key artefact was the Gebetbuch (Prayer book) – which was written in Hebrew and in German (with the gothic Fraktur font) – also, inside was an inscription from a Großvater to his Enkelkind.

What a different world this would have been, had it not been for the Holocaust? If only those two cultures could have flourished together! Berlin was so progressive already at the turn of the last century – the beautiful synergy of these two cultures together in the arts and sciences, all but destroyed. However, both survived differently and a greater understanding has come out of a disastrous outcome.

centre-Berliner-Synagoge-Triptych---Gebetbuch-Edit-Edit
Neue Synagoge, Berlin
Berliner-Synagoge-Triptych---Gebetbuch-Edit

 

 

Little hands tell big stories

 

The Tapestry series (of which Persia 14 is part) is an exploration of the simple beauty that surrounds us.  I’ve started my work with still life and have explored architecture.  I’ve discovered that the water and the sky have a large impact on my personal life with respect to anxiety and depression.  

from the Tapestry Solo show at Akasha Art Projects

In the Tapestry series, I’ve discovered how others perceive beauty and how they tell their stories.  Persian carpets and how they are made are passed down from one generation to the next like oral histories.  The deft hands create miniature gardens or tribal designs that given them their purpose and identity.  My digital manipulation gives a modern twist to an ancient idea.  

from the Tapestry Solo show at Akasha Art Projects

Carpets are our Soul – Turkmen Proverb

When I first started taking pictures of Persian carpets, I didn’t realize how great an undertaking this would be.  I didn’t realize that Persian carpets are not mere tapestries but they are poetry, folk tales and an art form passed down from generation to generation.  I started to do a little research and came across the inside flap of this book:  The Root of Wild Madder.  This short piece of text, which I have quoted verbatim, says it all.

The Root of Wild Madder: Chasing the History, Mystery, and Lore of the Persian Carpet by Brian Murphy

The Root of Wild Madder opens with an invitation that flows form the same ancient inspiration.  “A carpet is poetry itself,” an Iranian carpet merchant declares to Author Brian Murphy.  “you just have to learn to read them.” So begins a journey.  It follows Persian carpets from the remote villages of Afghanistan and Iran where they are woven – often by young girls – and on to the bazaars where they are traded, to the Sufis and mystic poets who find grace and magic in their timeless designs, and, finally and unexpectedly, to ta carpet showroom in New York.

Told in exquisite prose befitting one of the world’s loveliest art forms, The Root of Wild Madder eloquently chronicles ow carpets embody humanity’s endless striving for unattainable perfection.  Here are stories of the weavers and their dreams, the “mules” who move the carpets from place to place, the tradesmen who sell them in the bazaars and the refugee compelled to trade a carpet he believes contains the soul of his grandmother – because his family must eat.

The madder plant has fed the carpets red brilliance since the earliest weavings.  But the power of its palette, like the dyers’ traditions threatens to pass from memory.  It would be a profound loss.  It’s part of a world as rich as any sublime carpet:  steeped in spirituality, culture, allegory, and, above all, mystery.  Nearly all the carpet masterworks are anonymous art for the ages, and Murphy seeks out their glorious hidden narratives.  As he observes, “Every carpet carries it’s own distinctive voice.  Suddenly I wanted to hear them?