– When I was going to see a friend’s show at SVA a couple of months ago I was told to go downstairs and check out the solo show of Ayala Gazit. I was absolutely blown away by the show. Her photographs were beautiful and the installation really made the strong emotional impact her project calls for. Her show is by far my favorite one I’ve seen so far this year.
I started by photographing my grandmother in Israel. When I gathered all of these pictures together, it seemed as though I had been photographing segments of a long story; a history that has a continuous theme of tension, created by things left unsaid.
With this concept in mind, I decided to approach my 89 year old grandmother about my late grandfather whom I have never met. I assumed that he might be the source of the tension I felt from her. All I really knew of him was that he was born in Germany to a German mother and Jewish father, and therefore forced into exile during the war. This is the reason why I later received a German passport myself. Not knowing a word of German, or even having ever visited the country of which I am a legal citizen of seemed like an absurd paradox to me. What sparked my interest was when I learned about my grandfathers mother, named Adolfina, who left her children in exile during the war, returned to Germany and married a German officer. This urged me to search for family members who are still alive and would be willing to tell me what they remember of their past. I traveled to England, Israel and Germany to find them. I showed up on their doorstep with a camera and a recorder, where I found a heartfelt acceptance and cooperation. To my surprise the dynamics between the speakers, the recorder/camera and myself was astounding. The sitters genuinely revealed themselves to me with phenomenal stories of a time that no longer exists: stories of pain, longing, anger and love.
I chose to present this project is in the form of an alternative family album. I composed a small collection of found images, quotations from recordings and images I photographed throughout this journey. All create an interesting combination of juxtapositions that form a dialogue from one image to the next.
© Ayala Gazit
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