On Invisible Stitches
‘Dream Shaper’ by Yael Sarlin is a multi-layered exhibition. Fused together are layer upon layer of personal and collective memory. Serlin operates as a researcher of extinct cultures: turning stones to find traces of the past, visiting cemeteries, sifting through archives of Jewish communities in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, and gathering old photographs, objects, symbolic images, and stories. The question of home, identity, and memory she dealt with in her early works, is still present in this body of work. It’s a story told through the things that are missing from it, outlines of lives and communities. Layers of cut-out paper pile up, the cut-out objects leave gaping traces. Whatever left the trace is long gone, leaving behind a ghost embedded in the sand. Layers upon layers like a barrow, stacking up like a fissured glass lens born from a black background. Something is removed and, at the same time, added. A thread pulls down and up in a swing or scales motion. Something is pulling, and something is pulled, in and out, between a community’s past and personal identity. Serlin weaves gold threads on “trees-of-life ” she found discarded on their way to be buried in the Genizah. Through the tangle of threads, she adds an allotment of life, additional time in this world before moving on to the next. A disorganized heap is paved, converged, spiraled, descending in a funnel that restores the order: chaos on one side, golden thread on the other, and a pair of hands weaving, embroidering, and cutting in the middle, following the material throughout its changing states.Gold threads coil from delicate embroidery works. Symbols, taken from Jewish graves – A lifetime drains through a small vortex, down through time, into a solid solitary form. Wild scraps of thread attached them to us. A tiny hand reaches out, as a thread leads into the bird, the ladder, and the house. If we pull it, will it unravell or will we be pulled into it. The Greek thread of life comes to mind; the scissors that cut it and the delicate link in form of a single action separating life from death, reality from dreams, concrete worlds and memory merged into the past or into ourselves. We carry the world within us, and it carries us within it.