about the artist
“Mine are superficial roots, along the railroad tracks of Europe, through the paths of emigration and deportation. Our roots are diasporic. They do not go underground. They are not attached to any particular land or soil. Nor do they lie at the bottom of a well in Jerusalem.”” -Henry Raczymow, “Memory Shot with Holes”
I came to art late in life, and untrained, when my mother came to live with me. Creating images around the historical themes of her life was a way to honor her and her experience as a Holocaust survivor, and to work with my demons as her daughter, and it opened doors of communication between us which were very important to us both as she approached the end of her life. Many of my earlier pieces reflect my need to ‘make a mark’ on behalf of my parents, to tell their stories.
In 2007, I was invited to exhibit my work at the Prague Jewish Museum and the Terezin Ghetto Museum in the Czech Republic. I had a sister who had been deported to Terezin as a child, and was one of the children in Friedl Dicker Brandeis’ art classes. My sister, like Mme Brandeis, perished in Auschwitz, but her drawings survived and are in the possession of the Jewish Museum. For these exhibits, I created monotypes which incorporated fragments of my sister’s drawings, historical family documents, and my parents’ handwritten life stories.
a monotype with chine colle, including a photograph of my father and
my sister walking in Prague in 1937, and a family document showing
my father’s decision/failed attempt
to leave the Jewish religion, in 1939.
This is Our People is a monotype with a fragment of one of my sister’s drawings, and my mother’s description of a stop in the Czech town of Plana during the cattle car trip from the Flossenberg concentration camp to Mauthausen, where she was liberated by the Americans in May, 1945.
As my work has evolved, the tension between the word as a means of direct communication and the role of text in visual art in conveying meaning and provoking response in the viewer has become more prominent. While the theme of memorialization and documentation of specific, historical losses continues to appear, I am becoming more preoccupied with how these individual stories reside in a larger framework of transmission of memory.
In my exhibition “Impasse: A Collective Refusal of Memory (2010)” I included contemporary text and maps of ancient Israel (The Kingdom of Israel Colored Thus, [read more and see larger image]), and more recent documentation of the Israel/Palestine conflict,
(Peel Commission Map, 1937. [see larger image], As in the past, I am compelled to insert specific, individual stories by repetitive, almost obsessive use of altered family photographs.
Teach Your Children Well [see larger image] The image of my uncle Fritz [b. Bucharest, 1908, died Bergen- Belsen, 1945], which can be read as any child of semitic or middle eastern origin, appears in multiples in
Our Olive Tree. [see
all images and content © 2011 jana zimmer