Tamar Lederberg

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Photography

The group of photographs Nun and Dancer (1999), was exhibited in New York (Black and White Gallery, Soho).

Tamar Lederberg's photographs are multi-layered works which conjoin different fragmented sources. On one hand, they present construction sites, excavation pits and drilling machines and on the other, different objects such as folded pieces of fabric, paper bags, hair and human figures. Some works cite famous artworks. For example, the nun photographed by Eugene Smith, a witness to the horrors of war, unexpectedly appears together with a construction device within the same work. Jack Mitchell's dancer appears near a construction site. This kind of articulation brings about a vast field of associations evoked by the different elements and their new contexts. References to different periods of time intermingle and various meanings are suggested.
Thus, each image can be conceived as alluding to different "texts". The vague figures of the workers may be "read" as workers of the fifties, as representatives of the developing state of Israel or of some kind of socialist vision. As such, they seem to revive recollections of old documentary films. At the same time, these figures may evoke thoughts about soldiers, wars and war movies, thus simultaneously alluding to processes of construction and destruction. In addition, the conjunction of these figures with other "grafted" elements widens the scope of the possible meanings, undoing any clear univocal interpretation. For example, Mitchell's dancer gains a new space for his performance within a new context. At the same time, he seems to be threatened by a machine apparently directed toward him. While he is "hovering" close to the lower border of the work i.e. the lowest ground level, the other images, which are essentially linked to the earth, seem to "float in the air". Thus the dancer raises thoughts about the dynamics of the whole work. The observer conceives him, an artist and an artistic creation, as a component of an apparently non-artistic surrounding. At the same time, the construction site is inspired by the world of art. Furthermore, it seems that the work as a whole can be read as a possible installation whose components are removable. Nevertheless, the contingency of the coexistence of the different worlds is emphasized.
Smith's nun "grafted" within Tamar Lederberg's work seems to be influenced by the heavy anchor which may be interpreted as a press or even a weapon. Thus the work suggests the conjunction of spirit and matter, fear and firmness, art and non-art. The articulation of distinct upper and lower images suggests hierarchy and order of "reading". As in other works, the citation is conspicuously "sewn", emphasizing its linkages to its previous context as well as to other potential contexts, undoing any rigid interpretation.
The presentation of the disposable paper-bag together with the transparent images of the workers seems to suggest also the notion of contingency of materials as well as of human beings and the desire to capture the uncapturable. The paper-bag may even blur the borders between realms: advertisement and art on one hand and two-dimensional and three-dimensional representations on the other. It also implies references to Pop Art and Art Povera.
The folded piece of fabric may also convey various connotations: it suggests a shrouded corps, but yet, it seems to be full of life. At times, it reminds one of an old rug, but yet, another "reading" interprets it as a canvas for painting, bringing to the fore meta-artistic questions. Another approach contextualizes this object within the art-world of the twentieth century, linking it to Christo's artworks.
Tamar Lederberg's works induce a nostalgic atmosphere, but at the same time withdraw any clear source. A process of decipherment is summoned, entailing the recognition that ambiguity and mystery are embedded within these enigmatic artworks.

Zehava Edelsburg