Tamar Nissim’s videos, photographs, and objects explore how Western hygiene methods were interwoven with nationalist ideology to control women in mid-twentieth-century Israel. Nissim’s videos draw from personal interviews, archival research, and testimonies to trace the effects of these policies on women’s bodies and lives: Mizrahi immigrants who complied to prove themselves civilized; nurses who enforced strict hygiene protocols; mothers whose babies were taken away in what has come to be known as the Yemenite, Mizrahi, and Balkan Children Affair.
Glass bottles, bars of olive oil soap, and photographs of cleaning products extend the context of the videos, offering windows into these women’s environments. Pairing audio of herself and her mother with footage of her daughter, Nissim forms an intergenerational portrait. Unflinchingly, she confronts the legacy of trauma, how it remains in the body, and its possible ends.
Co-sponsor: The Schusterman Center for Israel Studies
Studio Israel with Tamar Nissim
Tamar Nissim in conversation with Lisa Fishbayn Joffe and Shoshana Madmoni-Gerber
Through video and still photography, Tamar Nissim's exhibition, Contagious Truths, explores the experience of women in the Mizrahi immigrant community in Israel, with a particular focus on the troubling stories of babies taken from their mothers in what has come to be known as the Yemenite Babies Affair.
Lisa Fishbayn Joffe is the director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute.
Shoshana Madmoni-Gerber is an Associate Professor of Communication and Journalism at Suffolk University and the author of Israeli Media and the Framing of Internal Conflict: The Yemenite Babies Affair.
Studio Israel is an online conversation series that looks at Israeli culture and diversity through the lens of contemporary Israeli artists and creatives. Chaired by Caron Tabb. Studio Israel is a partnership among Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, Jewish Arts Collaborative, the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, and the Vilna Shul, and is made possible by generous support from Combined Jewish Philanthropies.
Artist Talk and Opening Reception
Israeli artist Tamar Nissim discusses her archival research and multimedia exhibition, Contagious Truths.