The Muse, portrait of the Artist and Her Muse 2020, 2020
The Artist and Her Muse, a portrait
After a decade of having used sterile gauzes in performances to heal national, historical as well as personal wounds inscribed in the memory of the landscape, the city, the map and the body, I reveal the muse behind the Wounded Land Project.
Following an accident in 2009, my daughter Kalia suffered 3rd degree burns and needed skin grafts. For over a year her wounds had to be dressed with sterile gauze, creams, silicon and other special bandages. Dressing her wounds at home became part of a painful daily routine, whilst in the studio I would dress wounded cartographic maps of Jerusalem that had been incised and grafted anew. Over the years her gauzes became the medium for acts of healing as a motherly ‘Tikoun’ (repair), love and compassion.
In September 2020, we performed together at the Dead Sea, near the site where she was wounded, a site with a geological and historical wound as well. For a studio portrait I looked for a technique that would embody the wound, not only by its physical depiction but also through the medium itself.
The imperfections and disturbing beauty of the portraits realized in wet-plate collodion process appealed to me even more after I learned its history. Collodion, a flammable solution of nitrocellulose in ether and alcohol was first used in 1847 by John Parker Maynard for surgical dressing and it was even used during the Vietnam War to reduce bleeding before soldiers reached the hospital to be stitched up. Collodion has a violent history as an explosive material (blasting gelatin) invented by Alfred Nobel in 1875 and as a photographic process invented by Frederick Scott Archer in 1851. All these contradictory elements of healing, blasting and creation, embodied in one solution felt the right choice for this portrait. There are not many contemporary photographers using this complex process requiring special skills and a heavy archaic material. Edward Kaprov, a talented Russian-Israeli artist photographer based in the Tel Aviv area, who after 20 years of documentary photography switched to the wet-plate collodion process made this work possible.