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Art and Identity

Text for Zusammen's group exhibition

Not until long ago, I was caught up in a romantic perception of myself as a "citizen of the world." Making a mess of eastern philosophies and mixing it up with wishful thinking, I wanted to be that free being living outside of any boxes, definitions, and maybe even identity. But, you know what, that's precisely it; I was struggling with my identity, fighting to keep certain voices silent, and wished I was someone other than who I am. It went much deeper than nationality.

I always thought I was too polite to be Israeli. I thought being Israeli meant being loud, rood, disrespectful of authority, and acting like everyone in the world owes me something. And to be honest, it's not entirely false, for these qualities are shared with many of us Israelis. When it came to food and humor (Israeli Hebrew is the best!), I had no issues with my origin, but all the rest was something to disassociate myself from.

When I decided to move to Berlin I felt a bit stupid. Even though I had a complex relationship with my sense of self and self-acceptance, I greatly loved my life in Israel! Moving to Berlin and starting over when all seemed to be looking up was not a very rational thing to do. Looking back now, it appears like I needed to get physically distanced from the land and people I love to find recovery from all sorts of behaviors and perceptions that affected my mental and physical well-being.

Living in the German/American colony in Tel Aviv was a dream of mine. Letting it go after it finally came true felt ridiculous

During my first two years in Berlin, I drew a lot. A lot, a lot. And after two years I even displayed my journey in a solo exhibition named "Doll Parts" (in September 2020). But after that great climax arrived all sorts of losses, dark Berlin winter, and a very long lockdown. That time forced me to spend a lot of time with grief and sadness, something I always pushed away and distracted myself from. I was alive and somehow partially dead. Then, as more and more skeletons came out of the closet, I dived deep into intense therapy and finally found a path to recovery.

I wasn't drawing a lot while things fell apart or in intense treatment, and when I wondered if I had anything to offer for an exhibition about 'Israeli life in Berlin,' my first reaction was, "I don't think so."

But suddenly, it just hit me that I am SO ISRAELI!

I was born and raised in Israel, and being Israeli is not only in my genes and runs in my veins but also creates the filter through which I see and experience the world, for the good and the unpleasant. And today, I pay greater respect to how my upbringing manifests in my character (and I learned I can be a proud Israeli and still disagree with Israeli politics).

Oh, and also, I might not be super loud, but the more I agree to accept my "Israeli side," the more I let my voice be heard and won't take any bullshit when I feel mistreated.

Israel, you might be a bit mad, but I love you and am grateful for all you gave me. Accepting the role you have in my life promotes the true sense of freedom I crave! * I still think a world with less bureaucracy and "which country has bigger penis" games would be nice. You can't take the dreams away from the dreamer, I guess.


A few words about the works displayed in the exhibition:

arms and hands grabbing pulling pushing tight aggressive drawing pencil art
Push and Pull, Graphite on Paper, 59X38 cm, 2021.

All works chosen for this exhibition represent different experiences from my last two years in Berlin. But before I start telling more about them, I want to say a few words about my approach to the stories behind works of art;

I know these stories are appealing because they make art more understood, relatable, and it makes one feel like art is an open event and not like a private party you were not invited to. But I do wish to leave space for the people standing face to face with the drawings to have space of freedom to have their own experience and let their imagination run wild.

That is why I will write in short and leave the rest to gallery talks and personal blog posts.

arms and hands pulling passive aggressive
Passive Aggressive, Graphite on Paper, 42X30 cm, 2022.

Passive Aggressive, Graphite on Paper, 42X30 cm, 2022.

Push and Pull, Graphite on Paper, 59X38 cm, 2021.

The arms and hands drawings show arms being pulled while others are resisting or being passive to being pulled. All of that appears as an external struggle between two figures' arms.

In my experience, the body reflects its inner experiences, thoughts, and feelings. So that turns the drawings into a reflection of an internal battle between different parts of the self: passiveness and aggressiveness, push and pull, staying, leaving, getting close, pushing away, and power struggles.

Can one exist without the other? Can one be known without the other? We get to know ourselves through the experiences of opposites, not only through fluffy reflections of similarities. * The drawings were created after a heart-to-heart talk with Sebastian.

paper crumpled drawing pencil
A Murder of One, Graphite on Paper, 20X20 cm, 2021.

A Murder of One, Graphite on Paper, 20X20 cm, 2021.

The drawing showing a crumpled piece of paper is named after the song written on the note, "A Murder of One" by the Counting Crows. This song, in my heart, talks about the magic in life we smuggle up and hide to the point our lives are nothing but a waste of greatness. Having such strong words written only to crumple the paper and let it fade away is a somewhat violent act, coming from a place of shame and denial.

It makes me wonder whether it is "a shame to waste our lives," or do we waste our lives out of shame?

woman sitting contemplating two faces two figures
Me, Myself, and I, Graphite on Paper, 50X70 cm, 2021.

Me, Myself, and I, Graphite on Paper, 50X70 cm, 2021.

The drawing showing a women's contemplation is based on a talk with Courtney, a wonderful woman who volunteered to share her story with me. Our first meeting and extremely open and revealing conversation inspired the drawing.

I could see myself in Courtney's story and wished to represent the road toward change as one requiring patience and acceptance of one's self. Not always easy, but sometimes inevitable.

pendant chain forever engraving drawing pencil art
Forever, Graphite on Paper, 20X20 cm, 2022.

Forever, Graphite on Paper, 20X20 cm, 2022.

Lastly, the pendant drawing is too long of a story to be put into words in this format. The story goes back to the age of twenty-three, to the first art exhibition I ever saw, continues through the memorabilia I made after my cat passed away, and ends in acceptance of having a great fear of abandonment. A fear that had a dominant impact on my behavior in all relationships throughout the years.


The opening night of the exhibition will be on Sep 12th at 18:00, in Zusammen center (Berlin Mitte). The event is free but signing up is required. You can sign up at the link below:

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