Apologies for the repetition of some segments of text - I have been joggling stuff around for the entry of the Bristol Biennial catalogue.
Horror Vacui 1946 – 1986
Our family tree had been burnt to a stump. Whole branches, great networks of leaves disappeared into the sky and ground. There was no stone that marked their passage. All that was left were the fading photographs that my father kept in a yellow envelope under his desk.
Horror Vacui is based on photographs of my family from the immediate post-war (WWII) period until the 1980s. I have selected images that represent a timeline spanning four decades. The timeline represents my family history post World War II, in particular, the maternal legacy passed on from grandmother, mother to daughter. Due to my family’s Jewish lineage, this history is unavoidably tainted by the traumatic legacy of war and displacement. However, this is not a work about the Holocaust, but of the long-term psychological effects of persecution. The presence of which is found not only in those who suffered directly, but is also manifest in their children and their children’s children. The images follow my family from Germany, to Tel Aviv, Paris and Melbourne. Each family member has been silhouetted; personal identity has been masked by the traumas of the past.
Following Aristotle’s statement that ‘nature abhors a vacuum’, Horror Vacui, the installation, fills the space of lack, of dismemberment, with blackness, it becomes a negative space, a shroud, an emptiness, a vacua. As a second-generation child of the holocaust, the black void is what remains for me to interpret as I try to understand my family’s history. The installation plays with the meanings of this legacy. The photographic images explore the familial relationships and identities formed around/by this abyss.
Horror Vacui evokes the threat of the vacuum, the palpable presence of absence and the necessary projection of history. For me, there represents a fascination with the emptiness (vacua), content that has not/cannot be supplied, and as such the unknown has to be represented with many layers, creating a dark accumulation of mass.