This photomontage series (2019) describes some of the common experiences of women across centuries. Just like our physiologies are tied to the phases of the moon so are we tied through shared life events and states connected to our lives.
A lot has changed for women; not enough has changed for women.
Giving birth, raising children, aging, being loved or abandoned, being controlled or forging our own path has always been basic to the female experience. Finding solace among sisters or competing for scraps as rivals was often part of our existence. Curiosity, skepticism, learning and rebelling had to be fought for. Longing, dreaming and hope were part of the way.
The series consists of some 30 photomontages (24x18) printed with archival ink jet on German Etching paper.
The first wave of Jewish immigrants who came to the US in order to escape poverty, oppression and persecution in Europe, started their new lives dealing with scrap metals and other kinds of refuse, until eventually turning garbage collection work into successful enterprises. Contemporary immigrants, legal or not, often have no other choice than turning to menial jobs, cleaning up our dirt, or working our fields.
Immigrants, then and now, certainly experience transience in both their physical displacement and in their psychological adjustment. The montages try to capture how disquieting or even menacing these states can be.
The materials that historically provided immigrants’ livelihood were also of a transient nature - cast off, discarded, broken and headed for the garbage. The same is true for the crops migrant laborers pick these days, the refuse they deal with in restaurant kitchens, or any other cleaning job. The photographs used for these montages were taken at steelyards, recycling stations, fields and junk stores and then mixed with elements from local businesses (for example a shipyard in town) that were built as a result of the early immigrant labor.
The series (2015) consists of 18 photomontages printed 24x18 with archival ink-jet print on German Etching paper. Limited Edition of 10.
Hamburg is an old, wealthy harbor city that has a history of its own losses. Around 50.000 people died and close to 60 percent of residential housing and 456 public buildings were destroyed during the fire bombing of the allied forces during WW II alone. The city is dominated by water, in proximity to the Baltic Sea, with the large river Elbe and canals traversing the city - in contrast to the mountainous and desert landscapes of the refugees’ country of origin. Hamburg was home to early revolutionaries like Heinrich Heine and Ernst Thälmann, the leader of the communist party during the Weimar Republic, murdered by Hitler, and also home to Max Brauer, the first mayor after WW II and Helmut Schmidt, the West German chancellor from 1974 to 1982, and the composers Brahms and Mendelsohn-Bartoldy.
By mid 2017, my former hometown of Hamburg, Germany, housed about 50.500 refugees, 12.000 of these under the age of 18. Most of them fled life threatening situations in Afghanistan, Syria and Iran. The administration’s and citizens’ engagement in support of refugees is exemplary, which is not necessarily the norm in either Germany or other European countries.
The photomontages, all based on photographs of Hamburg across the last decade, try to express how perplexing some of the sights might be to someone from the war zones of Afghanistan or Syria, how unsettling in their opulence and their ubiquitous wealth. But the images also pay homage to the beauty of a city that has survived wars, fascism, recurrent deadly fires and floods, and remained progressive, liberal and open-minded and embracing those fleeing war.
The series (2018) consists of 24 photomontages printed 20x16 with archival ink-jet print on German Etching paper. Limited Edition of 10.
For us who have witnessed a lifetime of airplane disasters, the Icarus myth provides the easy analogy of things falling out of the sky. This series is more concerned, however, with the caveats the myth suggests: the assumption of being in control, of falling for the illusion of control. Humans invent and use technology, set national and global policies, and make economic or military decisions about situations prevailing powers consider controllable. Unlike Icarus, we often lack information or warning, but, like Daedalus, his father, we are often alert to the risks but convinced we can handle them – and are profoundly mistaken. The result sometimes involves the same fate as Icarus’s– falling from the sky – and sometimes takes other equally tragic forms.
As an artist, I have created a series of photomontages intended to remind us of the evocative power of this myth, focusses on the illusion of control. The montages are linked to the story of Icarus through images of birds and linked to modern tragedy by depicting the locations where disasters happened - all photographs on site except for Ukraine and South China Sea, where I used visual stand-in’s.
The series (2015) consists of 10 photomontages printed 20x16 with archival ink-jet print on German Etching paper. Limited Edition of 10.
Ukraine - Malaysia Airline Flight 17 2014
Manhattan – American Airlines Flight 11 - 2001
Manhattan – United Airlines Flight 175 – 9/11/2001
Miami (MIA) - ValueJet Flight 596 1992
CharleCharles de Gaulle (CDG) Air France Flight 4590 1985 (Concorde)
Lockerbie – Pan Am Flight 103 1988
Schiphol (AMS) - El Al Flight 1864 1992
Hudson River, NY – United Airways Flight 1549 – 2009
South China Sea - Malaysia Airline Flight 370 – 2014
The Refugees' Dreams
The Syrian refugee crisis had taken on unimaginable dimensions during 2017, both in the numbers of refugees arriving on European shores, the number of refugees not surviving the arduous journey, and the number of attacks experienced while applying for asylum.
All of this applies to some extent also to the contemporary US debate about immigration, with legal requirements to give shelter to those fleeing existential danger being ignored, and with nationalism and xenophobia on the rise.
It would be presumptuous of me to say I know what goes on in a refugee’s mind. I have not been bombed out, lived in fear for my life, driven out of my home, lost family to death and destruction, undertaken a perilous journey and arrived at a place that is alien in its climate, language and culture. I have not departed a home with no firm knowledge of where my next home would be – or if the people there would in any way welcome me.
My photomontages, then, are products of my imagination, trying to capture themes associated with displacement that I believe to be universal. In my imagination, longing for a new home, or a shelter, while re-living the trauma of the flight and the existential threats left behind, fills the refugees’ dreams.
Most of the series’ 20 some montages contain a building, representing longing for a home or at least shelter. Some contain people to focus on issues of isolation, unemployment, integration or cultural clash - they are mostly located in urban settings. And some contain a look back at the trauma of the voyage, and what’s left behind. The intense color choices reflect the vividness of nightmares.
The series (2017) consists of 24 photomontages printed 24x18 with archival ink-jet print on German Etching paper. Limited Edition of 10.
Denizens of Climate Change
The series (2016) Denizens of Climate Change was intended to showcase the landscapes and bird populations of the Pacific Northwest - all of which will suffer the impact of climate change in the years to come, just like the rest of the world.
While photographing the beauty that surrounds us I was wondering how many of these species and natural sights will still be available to later generations. Will we have failed our children and their children by not pursuing a way to halt the destructive exploitation of our world more aggressively?
Have we done enough to stop the appointment of cabinet members here in the US that consider climate change a hoax, or worse, know it is real but will not forgo short term financial gain regardless of long term consequences? Are we willing to change our own behaviors to delay climate change, starting with how much we drive, how much we consume and what we eat?
The link below displays research by the Audubon Society and guides you through more than 300 bird species who will be climate threatened or climate endangered by the end of the century.
The montages try to conserve the beauty of what is, and also hint at the destruction that will be upon us if we don't act. The disquieting nature of the montages is hopefully balanced by their appreciation for nature as we still experience it.