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Ora Krauss – Forest of Oblivion Exhibition Text

2010 | “Forest of Oblivion” exhibition text

Nothing twice / Wisława Szymborska
Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice…

(Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh)

“The childhood is not nostalgia, nor a horror, nor a paradise lost nor the Golden Fleece, but maybe it is a horizon, a point of departure, a system of hinges that the threads of my life could draw from them their meanings”. This saying of Georges Perec ‏ is relevant to the themes that occupy the artist Haya Graetz-Ran.
“The “animals” invaded into the works out of forgetfulness, they returned to my conscience like oil stains floating on water. Rabbits, hedgehogs, ducks and suricates” Says Haya Graetz-Ran about her present works.
Graetz-Ran continues to touch in the shadow of the past, but draws insights and understandings and gradually builds with them herself along with her creation and the insights develop and change by the spirit of the times.
In previous serieses of works, Graetz-Ran dealt with the relationship between the pioneer mother and the satisfying daughter. The artistic treatment referred to the portrait of the mother, of the generation of tormented mothers, serving as a sacrifice for the formation of the state of and for the upbringing of their children. In this series the mother was painted on cutting boards which is tied to the feminine precincts. Thereby the board has become part of the work theme in the context of the public and the private.
Graetz-Ran made use of the knife cuts on the cutting boards and defied against the conventions of the era that influenced her upbringing and carved her character. This large body of works was presented in the municipal gallery of Rehovot in the early 2000s in a group exhibition – “Drawers of Childhood” that dealt in the relationship between mother and daughter.
Subsequently, Graetz-Ran broadened and deepened in researching the era with the serieses: “White lilies”(“Levanot”), and “calligraphy”(“Ktiva tamaa”). In these works she focused on her contemporaries and presented paintings of innocent girls. This found expression in the presentation of the “good girls”. The girls appear in her paintings with their heads not included in the frame, dressed in white dresses (white symbolizing purity), or in a very short pants that reveals the legs of an innocent girl standing with a hesitant posture. The white background, ruling all the works, merges with the whiteness of their dresses. Here and there a grayish shade is added and forms the girl and her shadow. These are very powerful works that emphasize the emptiness as an unidentified place and tell with artistry on traumas, pain and helplessness.
An other important motif that appears in these paintings is the posture. The girls are always painted in a posture directed by the photographer (a man). These girls comply to the commanding male speech.
These works served “as a social mirror of the era of “the establishment of the Israeli society”. The use of the female/childish body as parallel to the Utopian Zionist enterprise” Says Graetz-Ran on her previous works.
And now what? Today, with a discourse that deals with Postzionism, Postmodernism and Postfeminism, the new perspective shed a new light on Graetz-Ran works.

In the current exhibition a new series of works is presented, “blue skirt”, which deals with girls from the current generation. Along with the paintings of the pioneers and their daughters, girls from a new species are observed, girls that are independent and assertive.
The observed body is between the childish and the feminine. It is tempting and this time it is their legs that are excluded in the frame. The blue fleece (retro) skirt is assimilated well with a pinkish bra and the hair is interwoven to a braid, tied with a white ribbon. The same ribbon which was attached in the past to the center of the good girls’ heads. Graetz-Ran works on recurrent themes in all the series and habits traveling back and forth in time to revitalize and fascinate anew. In this series in contrast to the previous serieses the white background is replaced with the colorful landscape of Emek Izrael (her dwelling place). Even though that at first sight the illusive appearance of the girl is seemingly pastoral, her face are covered by her hands as she refuses to see.

The interest in the motive of “concealing”, that Graetz-Ran has focused on in the previous serieses and that related the generation of her parents, has become her forest of oblivion (forgetfulness) and has been replaced by the current generation that chooses not to see. The present Israeli reality as Graetz-Ran experiences it, is a reality characterized with some kind of impermeability or blindness and the rejection of the weak. Over the last years, she has a growing feeling of approaching danger of a world losing his sanity.

In the series titled “Stuck out her tongue”, Graetz-Ran repeats again on the image of a black haired girl, looking on the observer with a defying look, Stucking out her tongue, and directing a blaming finger on him. This is a girl that warns against the blurring boundaries between good and bad, the power and weakness and the ruler and ruled.

Stucking out a tongue can be interpreted as a provocative theme in the recent works of Graetz-Ran that refers to the portrayal of the current generation in an extreme manner.
It is some kind of a short and penetrating allegation on the state of the youth today – the generation of opulence that grew up replete with endless social stimulations: Advertisements, Television and computers, along bloody wars. Stucking out a tongue refers to the ambivalence of an assertive youth, cheeky and unconfident at the same time. A generation that grew up to parents that are busy with self-fulfillment and running after fortune and success. The time left for the children became a limited “quality time”.
The psychologist Emilia Perroni who deals with the representation of the new trend of motherhood, argues that the myth of the ideal motherhood is over. She writes about the transformation of the concept of motherhood and about her aversion of the idealization of the sacrifice built-in in the myth of motherhood.
The transitions and the novel ways of thinking of our age are leading to the “girls that stuck out their tongues” of Graetz-Ran. She is paints them well on various surfaces that have a saying themselves, such as: plastering tools from metal and wood, the masculine parallel to the cutting boards, which reminds construction work and plastering.
In these works the artist chooses to leave the covered parts of the body with chalk to emphasize the emptiness and the void that invades in. behind the “girls that stuck out their tongues”, branches of the forest of oblivion are observed, uprooted and dried. the suricates that stand on them represents alertness and constant fear of an approaching danger.
In the small hall of the gallery, an installation that demonstrates the forest of oblivion was built. It was built with interlaced branches collected in the nature and animals were put on them that refer to a threatening, bushy place like in the stories and fairy tale from long ago.

Graetz-Ran “plays” with objects of animals from children toys. The alteration that she chooses to do on them and their position in the works comes to create a scene of inner reality as she experiences it today. And as in all the serieses, the private and the collective are interwoven one with the other, join to a coherent and tightened work that links the past and the present. The importance of the work of Graetz-Ran in the consistent dealing with parenthood, childhood and society in a refined realistic style, emphasizes and implements her intuitive feelings, and on that she says:
“I didn’t choose realism as an option. I didn’t have a different option. For years I referred to my works as some kind of a private and personal autobiographical illustration.  The works are a construction of a reality. The manners of the comprehension and treatment are feminine and the interpretation of the reality is based on photographs I worked with and on the human and political components that feed me”

Ora Krauss, curator.