Monday, March 3, 2008

Daisy Brand, Ceramacist

Daisy Brand is a survivor of the Holocaust from Czechoslovakia. She was deported to Auschwitz and survived that camp, and was then transported to Riga as a slave laborer. Other camps followed until liberation. She now lives in the Boston, having immigrated to the USA from Israel in 1966. She was educated at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Boston University. She has exhibited her ceramic work frequently in New England and in Europe, including France, Italy, England and Canada. She was part of a large exhibition curated by Monice Bohm-Duchen in London during 1995, "After Auschwitz". Brand is an artist who challenges Theodor Adorno's notion that to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric. Her own ceramic art incorporates her wartime experiences. "My father was a banker in Bratislava. He was given a posting to the eastern part of Czechoslovakia, near the border with Rumania and Ukraine. While we were there, we were rounded up and transported to a Jewish ghetto. We were then transported to concentration camps. I myself spent time in seven different camps, including Auschwitz. I was only fourteen years old when I was incarcerated and I subsequently saw my entire family murdered."

Samuel Bak, Painter

Allow me to introduce myself: my name is Samuel Bak, I am a painter. All (of my paintings) are a response to the miracle of my survival. More precisely, these paintings are a visual statement born of an ever-growing need to deal with my experience of having come through the horrors of the Holocaust, and of having done it by age eleven.

I was born in Vilna in 1933, in a city that then belonged to Poland. It is now Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. A place so famous for its institutions of learning that it was called the Jerusalem of Lithuania. The members of my family were mostly secular, but were proud of their Jewish identity. The year 1939 shattered what had been for me a child's happy paradise. Irrevocably, I was marked by traumatizing experiences -- brutal changes of regime, Nazi occupation, ghetto, murderous "aktionen," labor camps, moments of great despair, escapes, and periods of hiding in unthinkable places. I lost many of my beloved ones, but my mother and I pulled through. She provided me with a shield of so much love and care that it must have saved my psyche. When in 1944 the Soviets liberated us, we were two among two hundred of Vilna's survivors -- from a community that had counted 70 or 80 thousand. This was not the end of our personal struggle, for there followed a dangerous escape from the Soviets and a long period of waiting in the DP camps in Germany. I was fifteen when we arrived to the newly established state of Israel in 1948, which was then battling for its independence. On and off, I spent there some fifteen years of my life.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

David Turner, Freeform Collage

David Turner was born in New York City in 1939, six months after Kristalnacht, six months before the first SS order targeting Jews in Poland for murder. Awareness of Jewish vulnerability in the Diaspora has occupied him as child and adult. This awareness finds expression in his art; not by image content since his production is entirely non-representational, but in his choice of medium.

The Holocaust defined Jews as societal refuse, their only value their gold fillings, their shoes, their hair: Death recycled. David collects the refuse of our consumer society, transforms our garbage into art: Life recycled.