On the role of the artist in promoting social change

Garbasz explores trauma, identity, memory and gender as HBI artist-in-residence

Yishay Garbasz

Berlin-based Israeli artist Yishay Garbasz has been selected as the fifth annual Hadassah-Brandeis Institute artist-in-residence.

Garbasz’ multimedia art works explore trauma, identity, memory and gender. Her work has been exhibited all over the world, including at the 2010 Busan Biennale in South Korea.

The first of her public programs at Brandeis will be a slide talk about her recent projects and, more broadly, the role of the artist in promoting social change. The talk will be at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, at the Women's Studies Research Center.

As a major focus of the residency, Garbasz is creating an installation entitled “Coming Home: Portraits of Jewish Women” that will celebrate Jewish women who identify as transgender. This exhibition will be in the research center’s Kniznick Gallery from May 1 through June 14.

Through interviews and portraits, Garbasz aims to give voice to a segment of the Jewish population that has been little discussed until recently, showing her subjects with their loved ones and families, at their jobs, or in their homes.  The artist says that “by showing that these individuals are part of relationships that are familiar to us, it is the first step toward [creating] a larger, more diverse Jewish community.” 

While her Brandeis installation will explore the intersection between Jewishness and gender, it will also tackle larger issues of identity, agency and human rights, topics that have recurred in Garbasz’s work for several years.

In her project “My Mother’s Footsteps,” she traced her mother’s path from her birthplace in Berlin to Holland to Westerbork and eventually to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, from which her mother was liberated by British forces.

The artist’s photographs and accompanying text have been exhibited internationally and are now available in a book by the same name (Hatje Cantz, 2009). In “Becoming,” which has been exhibited and also published as a flip book, Garbasz documents her own transformation from male to female, photographing her body every week to chronicle its gradual transformation.

Garbasz was born in Israel and studied photography in New York at Bard College. She has exhibited internationally, including at the 2010 Busan Biennale in Korea, as well as in Tokyo, Berlin, Bangkok, New York, and Taiwan. Her book “In My Mother’s Footsteps” was nominated for the German Photo Book Prize in 2009.

The 2013 HBI Artist-in-Residence Program is made possible thanks to the support of Avoda Arts and Arnie and Walter Winshall.

Related Events

Opening Reception: Tuesday, April 30, from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

Trauma and Ritual: A Workshop: Thursday, April 25, from 3 to 5 p.m.

Garbasz will facilitate a participatory workshop on trauma and the rituals we create in our daily lives and our art practices to explore and move through trauma. The session will incorporate breathing and meditation, observation, drawing, journaling, and discussion, and is designed for anyone interested in exploring this subject matter with an open mind. No artistic experience is required.

Please RSVP for the workshop to mlheur@brandeis.edu by April 19.

Categories: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

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