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Virgin of Israel and Her Daughters, 1994


In ancient time the bee represented the more positive side of the feminine archetype, the very embodiment of the feminine potency of nature, symbolizing the motherliness of earth with its never resting quality and expressing its motherhood in the nursing bees which fed the infant Zeus with honey. But the bees were also invested by the ancients with chthonic characteristics linked to the birth and death of the soul. The work Virgin of Israel and her Daughters was first exhibited in Tel Hai 94, a contemporary art event taking place in the Galilee in 1994. There the beehives were installed inside an army tent and linked to Tel Hai’s history it questioned the place of women in it’s ethos of male heroism. The Motherland, also referred in the Bible as ‘Virgin of Israel,’ sacrifices her sons in endless wars similarly to the Queen Bee that kills its drones in order to keep alive her thirty-million-year-old matriarchal monarchy. In this installation, the opened hives emptied of their combs and lightened in red bring forth associations of vessels of death. Inside the beehives are mysterious and beautiful traces which are signs left by the deadly presence of the wax moth, a parasite using the combs’ construction as a protection from danger and which feeding on honey and eggs will slowly sign the death of the entire colony.


Ariane Littman