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Shlomit Granat-Paldor
Creation's Details
Title: Blessed are you our God for not having made me a woman
Year: 2000
Dimensions: 100x35x250 cm.
Material: Wood, metal, cotton threads, linen handkerchiefs, iron, thimble

 

Statement

The text that I embroidered on each of the handkerchiefs in the installation is taken from Jewish tradition, from the morning blessings at the beginning of the shaharit (morning) prayer – which is to a great extent my starting point. Examining Judaism, its borders, and my borders from inside and outside Judaism is an important part of the work and the process which preceded it. In this installation however, I am trying to examine other “sacred aspects” as well – social and artistic, and to examine what we choose to transform into tradition. I chose the act of ironing and the act of starching as representative of the traditional work of women. (Starch is also identified with femininity and appears in many activities that are defined as “feminine”). The embroidery work, which recurs over and over on a great many handkerchiefs that are then ironed, one by one, is folded carefully and organized in piles – this is meant to embody the starching, and borders on exaggeration and obsession; the exaggeration is embodied not only with the increased numbers of handkerchiefs but also with the distorted measurements of the ironing board, a functional household object – lengthening and transforming it into an assembly line of Sisyphean work. The absurdity of the circle created in this way – the woman is embroidering an anti-feminine text (and actually she thus reaches self-nullification) for a man, on a handkerchief which is characteristically used by men, which will be laundered, ironed and folded again and again by the women – heightens the tension and raises questions as to the tradition from which the text was taken, regarding the society that recites this every morning and regarding the embroiderer who is a part of that very society and tradition and simultaneously trying to stand opposite them and face them. The work was not displayed in a religious place or context but in a place where sanctity is embraced by art. Questions regarding embroidery were also raised: Can embroidery have the same status as marble, bronze, or oils or perhaps it remains a craft? Is this type of “quiet” statement - feminine, if you will – capable of expressing the same level of intensity? Are art and tradition legitimate artistic “tools”? As a religious person, as a woman, and as an artist, I think often about the status of women in Judaism in general, and specifically of religious women and the place of tradition and femininity in the world of art. I chose to express my criticisms and my questions by using objects that bring to mind the difficulty in each of these areas: prayer, ironing and embroidery. I therefore protest (quietly, from within, without renouncing them) the seeming dichotomy between these areas – I relate to them all as a totality and examine the borders of art as well as the borders of “sanctity”.

 

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