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The Line and the Circle

2009 | SD Video | 19'26"

The artist returned to her childhood home, Kibbutz Nir Oz, and spent several weeks in the darkroom that her mother established and ran for twenty years in the local high school. Working side by side in this soon-to-be obsolete darkroom, mother and daughter developed old negatives and printed images that tell the history of their community. Lifschitz placed a static camera above the developer tray to record the emerging images and the women’s hands as they tended to the newly exposed photographic papers. During their conversation, mother and daughter talk about the past—personal, familial, and communal—and trace the kibbutz’s legacy as a socialist utopia. The artist designed a dedicated viewing structure inspired by kibbutz architecture for the exhibition at the Jewish Museum Munich.

Text: Emily Bilski

The Line and The Circle traces  the artist’s journey back to her childhood through the eyes of her mother the photographer. Two women converge upon the darkroom and from within the darkness and tranquility the world of a young Kibbutznik, a pioneer, a mother, a photographer is unveiled. The darkroom becomes a confessional. Confessions spoken in whispers are reciprocated over white photo papers gradually becoming images of a disappearing world. For the mother, the darkroom was a sanctuary, the place where she went to be alone away from the tumult of the kibbutz commune, whereas the daughter remembers the interludes with her mother in the darkroom as the only time that she had her mother to herself. An echo of a nagging memory of kibbutz childhood – the tumult of society on the one hand and the nights spent faraway from mother on the other. The journey of Sharone Lifschitz and her mother slices through three circles: the first is the close one of the private family album; the broader circle is that of the Kibbutz archive which preserves the fabric of kibbutz community life, a moment before the downfall when faced with the waves of capitalism and the determining force of affluent society. The third circle – the broadest – embodies the viewers’ collective memory created in a world whose memory was moulded by the photographic image of the mid 20th century.

Text: Eyal Perry


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