Shira Wachsmann’s works are based on natural materials that humans have used for ages. Clay, branches, feathers and charcoal trigger associations in regard to the universality of human needs, protective spaces, the provision of warmth and food, shelter. The circle repeatedly appears as a basic form in her works of the past years; it is also the starting point of the structure made of charred tree stems in the inner courtyard. The walkable structure growing narrower at the top can be perceived as a dwelling, yet it is ‘burnt’ in a metaphorical sense as well, the walls aren’t closed, the house cannot be used. The circle as a utopian form in Shira Wachsmann’s works derives from the contemplation of maps on which towns and cities are marked as circles. Old Israeli maps from 1953, which Wachsmann found in an antiquarian bookshop in Tel Aviv, also indicate towns in the form of a circle. Right next to the circle one can often find the old Arabic name of the town in brackets, with the note that is was destroyed. The circular charcoal works by Shira Wachsmann juxtapose the utopia of a closed, homogeneous territory or community with the heterotopia of destruction that precedes this notion. The Nest also gives way to archetypical conceptions of safety and protection, but also of fragility and the permanent threat to such a shelter.
Video installation, 16 min., bronze candelabrum
Without borders is the title of her video work, an excerpt from her larger film project 4 Schwestern. Shira Wachsmann films her mother and 3 sisters. They grew up in Germany after the war but did not regard themselves as German. They spoke German as their mother tongue, but German culture was not their culture. As adults, each of them emigrated at different times to Israel, each with a dream and fantasy of Israel.
Shira Wachsmann (*1984 in Tel Aviv) has been living and working in Berlin since 2006.