parable of the mothers
We are floating in the abyssal depths between spheres. Materials have no anchor and our bodies have been constructed away from themselves.
In front of us is
/ the Tent
/ the Temple
The door to the structure is a mirror and in the mirror are our mothers’ bodies. They are holding candles and singing, there is no sound here. They light the candles and a door appears behind them. We think that they are looking for something, but that they have forgotten what it is. Maybe they are trying to find the image of their bodies or the image of their own mothers’.
The mirror dissolves into fluid.
We see oil gathering in a pool beneath the Home. The wetness causes our bodies to return, and we stand between its walls.
We had not stepped inside the Home for many years. We were afraid of what people might think, or say, or do.
- the legend from A Book of Visions (presented below)
Or maybe London
And the date was 1920
Then we asked the Symbol for more time
But it was lost
It was stuck in the bottom of a trunk
And there were too many doors
So the Symbol opened every door
And in each door was a memory
Or a thought
Or a word
And we sat on the edge of the leather
And we washed in wax
And we read the words
But the words were read wrong
And the Symbol crushed seeds
Or it drank vinegar
And poured oil into silver
Then the words swam in mud
(You will remember)
And this is why there was only metal
And the metal ate itself to sustain the body
It stored papers
And made folders
And cast nets into the gaps of the page
All while we flattened outwards
And made a tree
And the tree made names
And the names were wrong
And the Symbol remained dormant
Compressed against paper
region of the daughters
- Myriam, from A Book of Visions (presented below). after Muriel Rukeyser's Women and Emblems
Plato is here somewhere but only in Spirit. I keep hearing him whisper about matter being an imperfect version of an idea, that my body has betrayed me. I want to tell him to go back to his cave and stay looking at his shadows, but when I try the only noise that comes out is a strange drip and so he stays with me a while.
When I am with him I am a formless, passive, shapeless blob of matter which can only birth indistinguishable extrusions of my body. They are a part of me, until one day they extend out too far from my centre and break off into daughters. The daughter flesh rolls off into the Void and I occasionally catch a glimpse of one frantically rolling down into a seam, looking for an anchor, or a well, and wailing. I think they might be haunting me.
scroll down for art works, scroll right for Myriam
HOW TO REMEMBER A NAME
filmwork 11:30 in length
We held a marriage certificate
We held a family document in the original state
On a printed sheet
A handwritten sheet
A handwritten page
A page of A4
A page of A4 with drawings
Drawings of lines
Drawings of columns and flowers
Drawings of words
The words were legible
The legible words were silent
And we didn’t understand
We looked at the words and the words were illegible
The words were not words the words were Symbols
The Symbols legislated a bond or a union
The union was legitimised by the Symbols
The Symbols stayed silent
The Symbols opened paths into walls
The walls contained bodies
Or maybe the word ‘and’
Then the Symbol dug into the earth
Or the Symbol carved a wound
And the wound made a path
Or the soil was a cave
The cave was a burrow
And the Symbol was a map
The Symbol was a door
And the door had many chambers
And the chambers made us weep
Or allowed us to travel in time
Bristol - UK
A BOOK OF VISIONS
archival bookwork in an edition of one printed and bound by Book Works
Book 15x9cmx1 cm Display case 15x9x8 cm Solander box 32x 23x11 cm
- 1x solander box covered with black book cloth and a de-bossed title with matte black foil lettering.
- 1x book with exposed binding composed of paper, transclear paper and black card. The cover features a cut-out frame and multiple de-bossed title lines, one with gloss black foil lettering, the others matte black.
- 1x Perspex box lined with grey carpet.
- 3x metal (tin) figures of various sizes formed through Melobdomancy, a type of divination which is comprised of melting down metal and spilling it quickly into water. The shapes that the metal forms are meant to indicate your present, past or future. Here, I am using them as a method of translating Hebrew symbols.
- Black specimen pins.
I have been thinking about the making of boxes and how we gather and store family histories and records. I have also been thinking about the collection of documents in boxes and the necessity for information to be hidden, alongside the consequence of that concealment being that memories or histories become lost. I have also been thinking about how we display these histories in museums or libraries, how rarity or loss can lead to protection or occlusion, of items wrapped in black book cloth and stored in drawers or boxes in well-ventilated basements.
A Book of Visions is an archive of documents (or evidence) from moving through the Void, approaching an occluded family history and loss of cultural practice or identity. It is an attempt to parallel my families actions of archiving and documenting, as a practice, to understand the gathering of family history as a practice within itself. An attempt to reconnect to a culture that was slowly lost and silenced before it reached me, in response to assimilation, or to fear, or to ancestral trauma.
The bookwork’s language is that of evidencing, of naming and archiving the experience of relearning a Jewish identity. The bookwork should be used, it should be handled, it should become worn with each person who views it, but as an edition of one it directs your means of approach towards it. Please take care of it. It requires your attention and for you to be cautious.
I recently learned about Genizahs, caves or chambers where Hebrew texts are buried for thousands of years because they shouldn’t be thrown away, because the language is sacred. The metal figures displayed in the bookwork are an attempt to abstractly materialise a language which I cannot translate or understand. The box that the pieces are housed in is perhaps a misremembering of a religious text, or house.
The poetic text in the book is a collection of written practice from the past year. It details a legend and traces a series of visions. The Void is conjuring a moment of materiality: an image, word or symbol appears and there is an opportunity to look into the window, to see the vision before it dissipates again. Where the silence that has grown suddenly becomes very loud, or rather it’s drawn over by an unexpected cross on a map which allows you to reorient yourself into a lost timeline, culture or place. This is realised through the use of transclear paper, as well as the images in the book being small flashes of windows or claustrophobic visions of something you can’t clearly see.
This work is in direct conversation with, and resulted from the process of making, How to Remember a Name.
The poem Myriam from this collection (featured at the top right of this page) was recently runner up for the Rex Warner prize.
we must try to begin the process of remembering
'OUR NAMES WERE OIL [parable/region/entry/vision]'
parable of the beginning
parable of the beginning
this way >
When we forgot, we didn’t know what it was exactly that we had forgotten nor when it had departed. We were left with a feeling and we let it sit with us for so long that the loss gently became secondary
And we were able to hide the feeling in the backs of our legs but eventually the containment became overwhelming and so the loss began to drip out
And we started to dream collectively
The same images were being shared in our sleep. Sometimes we dreamed of papers and suitcases, other times of oil and light
Do you remember when the dreams began?
And there was the Symbol which shifted. Sometimes it would look like a mirror, sometimes like a door or a hole, and other times like a cross on a map
And it felt like the Symbol was trying to communicate with us. But we didn’t understand what it needed to say. The context and its purpose had been lost over time. We began to think of it as a discharge
It was a side effect of the leaking, something that we should hide or cover. But it would keep demanding our attention and the more we stared, the more we came to understand it as language
And the language was material as well as spirit
And you will remember how some of us began digging. We were trying to find a point of origin but we didn’t know what it was we were looking for. And the more the earth passed through our fingers the more lost we became
And some of us felt the urge to visit abandoned buildings and strange stones, places that had become overrun with plants and marked walls and we stood in their corridors and we cried for hours but we did not know why
Those who had been digging long enough began to find forgotten clothes and photographs, of people in white dresses and black hats and groups of people in the cities from before
And they found papers
And on the papers was the Symbol in all its forms
And they found a field of bodies, or maybe lines
When we could dig no further, we occupied the space between the spirit and the flesh as a way to hold on to one another
We evolved the ability to pass between worlds and walk within walls. Here time ran away and we started to draw a map. We began to build our kingdoms in the mud.
How to Remember a Name is an embodied encounter with the void. The film navigates the transmission of mistranslated or misremembered history, language, cultural practice and violent mythologies. It places the short untangling of my interaction with, and loss of, Jewish culture against the fathomless void of wider Jewish history and collective trauma. It is an attempt to conjure visions of the burrow, to trace the edge of a crack in the wall and the text, to open and refocus a claustrophobic, alternative space: one of ritual and the body and its relation to vulnerability, shame and memory.
The work features an audio recording of an interview found on YouTube while researching The Battle of Cable Street (Worldwrite).
It is of the historian William J Fishman (Bill), a relation of mine, who I met only once.
Maisie’s work is the culmination of various attempts to unpack herself as an archival space. She starts with words, the body, or a crack in the wall. She is finding the evidence of something in her flesh, it is maybe a route out of or into somewhere, or a forgotten history, or a language. She is trying to orientate and gather herself in the void but she keeps slipping in and out of coherent thought. We watch her cast out a net to collect residual materials but now her veil is covered in mud, she is trying to see through it but the flies are making it difficult
and the Velcro stitching
(on the back of the dress)
has ripped a metal taste in her throat
we have forgotten our name
this new one keeps slipping
into the folds of our mouths
secreting a wax
we can't find the papers
how did we get into our bodies the first time?
[instructions for viewing]
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Ancestral and generational trauma
Descriptions of violence
Descriptions of antisemitism