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Correspondence, Olive barrels, 1998

Having previously created artworks with natural elements such as honey, earth, water, air, beehives and milk powder, I decided to use large amount of olives in 1998 for a project at the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art.

This sudden desire to use olives was triggered by a buried memory that reemerged from the depths of my subconscious. A memory linked to the first year of my arrival in Israel as a young student and to that of my first war trauma embodied in the First Lebanon War. In the summer of 1982, a student at the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem with a minimal knowledge of Hebrew, the complexity of the conflict escaped me, but the war was a gruesome reality with soldiers of my age dying.

That summer I volunteered at the Kibbutz Beit Hashita where the rough physical work at the olive factory helped me forget the war. Motivated by this sudden recollection, I decided 17 years later to pay a visit to the olive factory. It had changed a lot, no more manual work under the burning. During my visit, I learned that the factory was exporting olives to the US in black plastic barrels. I decided to create an installation entitled ‘Correspondence’ with barrels filled up with thousands of olive pits lightened by a red dim light.

Ariane Littman