Tal Frenkel Alroy
This is a story about a house and about ghosts. This is a story about objects and the soul of the objects. This is a story about memory and the stuff that memory is made of. This is a story about a photo; about an old living room in Budapest; about a grandfather and a grandmother who survived the war and settled in Kiryat Bialik; about a granddaughter who grew up in a kibbutz, in the children's dormitories and in her parents' house. This is a story about comfort and terror, about order and about a wolf that threatens to destroy it.
Neta Amir, a textile artist and designer, portrays and explores complex memory spaces using cloth napkins. The napkin, a textile object found in many homes up until the 90's, has various uses: Dresser decoration, vase placemat, tablecloth for lunch bag meals, head kerchief, handkerchief. For Neta, the napkin is a map of layered space, a carrier of memory.
Using laborious, repetitive and obsessive work, Neta unravels old napkins and sews new ones, breaking out of the fabric's frame and mixing outdoor elements with indoor ones: Electric bills, leaves, photos, paper tissues, glue, threads and children's drawings. The attempt to subvert the napkin, to disrupt it, to explore the material's boundaries and the mere definition of function, is also an attempt to draft a new order. The ironed napkin becomes a wrinkled map of selective memory, an expression of incompleteness, figures without backgrounds, bodiless faces.
Neta transforms the simple napkin into a genealogical material, into a roadmap of a family very much like ours. The movement from here to there, and the movement from "there" to here, is the movement of Grandmother Wolf. Grandmother is an orderly world consisting of a table, a dresser and a sofa, but also a world of a Wolf peeking in the window. This is the same Wolf that also lurks in the children's dormitories, between the cute little chairs.
In the gallery space, Neta exhibits her/our wonderful and nightmarish dream materials. We, the viewers, are invited into a theater of the memory, into the disorderly, carnival-like and involuntary space of the separate elements. After all, the past is not a narrative; it is composed of intertwined and interweaved fragments. A window, a dresser, table legs, a napkin and a drawer, as well as many eyes.
The exhibition and curation process involved a great deal of thinking about the ways in which memory is expressed and staged inside a gallery. As a result, the display elements have become a living, breathing and remembering material in the exhibition. The standard dresser is revealed in its hidden corner, and a framing convention has led to the backing of used picture frames. After all, we remain with the objects in the room, embedded in pieces of furniture that we brought from here and from there.