DIMENSIONS: 45,7 x 30,5 cm
TECHNICAL: oil on paper pasted onto board
The pigeons arrived in my studio as uninvited guests, trapped in a forbidden zone. At first one pigeon entered the studio and refused to leave. Shaken at the studio’s occupation by a foreign invader, I ran outside and waited for help.
The pigeon’s invasion of my territory invoked memories associated with visits to my grandfather’s home. I lived at the time in the Mahlul neighborhood by the Tel-Aviv seashore. Born in Jerusalem, my grandfather was the offspring of a Yemenite family that arrived in the country in the late 19th century, almost by foot, from Sanaa. In my grandfather’s small, fragile home, life had a different, slower and more traditional pace. I have several bird memories of that house, primarily of the Propitiatory Rite (Seder Kaparot) which my grandfather used to perform each year on the eve of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement): He would swing a flapping, croaking cock over my head, while reciting with great intention the Hebrew words: ‘“Zo chalifatcha, zo kaparatcha, zeh ha’tarnegol yelech le’mitah ve’ata telech le’chaim tovim arukim u’le’shalom” (‘This is your substitute, your atonement; this cock shall meet death but you shall find a long and pleasent life’). My grandfather never bothered explaining these words, and the ritual seems to have put a spell on me, entrapping my entire being. Moreover my grandfather raised pigeons, and their pecking, humming, sudden wing flapping, and strong odor were an inexhaustible source of dread to me. Most of all I feared their inexplicable, unpredictable behaviour, their foul smelling droppings. In an attempt to rid me of my fears my grandfather held a pigeon close to my body so I could touch it and calm down. These memory-sensations, blending fear with a strong desire to embrace the bird, were invoked in me later in life when I first encountered Picasso’s painting Girl Holding a Pigeon (1901).