A PERFECT STAGING FOR A HAPPY CHILHOOD

The enigmatic workings of memory and forgetting – a recurrent theme in the work of Lihie Talmor – are embodied in the very technique she employs. In photo-etching, acids burn the projections of photographs into a copper plate. The artist tampers with the photographic transparencies, with the corroding and printing process, creating a sense of erasure, blurring, of residue or darkened emphasis – as if the plates themselves remember.

In this series of photo-etchings, the artist starts out from self-exposure photographs taken by her daughter in her grandmother’s apartment, shortly after the grandmother’s death – in a room that is still warm, uncannily preserving the presence of the older woman. Through the artist’s use of multiple paraphrases, her staging and re-staging of the daughter’s photographs, she conjures up an array of possibilities – as if to give life another chance.

In the photographs, the daughter captures herself – seeing herself in the mirror – while the mother looks on at this interplay of looking duplicating the image, creating an infinite progression of looks. But this is not a gaze that turns the other into an object, nor a photography that halts the flow of life. A fabric of interconnectedness is woven through the looking of these women of three generations, creating an in-between space that makes the relations of subject to subject possible.

In front of the grandmother’s wall of mementos, the horizontal plane of the table – between the daughter and her camera – is tilted by the artist, and becomes a surface of projection for images and poems. It is a space that both separates and binds, exemplifying the precarious act of balancing between individuation – the cutting of the umbilical chord – and the ties of mother and daughter, the bonding in relationships of love.

Rita Mendes-Flohr
Antea Gallery, Jerusalem, 1999