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The Yellow Tray

Dror Pimentel

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The Yellow Tray

As we all know, art sometimes has the power to say something that is worth more than a thousand words. And at times it has the power to condense a personal or historical state of affairs in one image. An example is the work "Germania" by Hans Hecke, which appears on the cover of this edition of History and Theory: the Protocols. This is also the case with the work of Ido Poritzky –with all its demonstrated lack of pretensions   it is no more than an educated game with the basic symbols of Zionism: Poritzky takes some of the worn out symbols of Zionism, transforms them and creates a new statement. One of the symbols with which the work plays is of course the 'magen david' (star of David) which is richly impregnated with meaning within Jewish symbolism, and is also the symbol of the state of Israel.  But the star of David is here yellow, which obviously hints at the yellow arm band. Poritzky is not the first Israeli artist to play with the star of David and the yellow arm patch. Behind the yellow star of David there is a silver area, a kind of tray which is also a rich Zionist symbol: it is the poetic image that Alterman uses to justify the enormous number of casualties in the War of Independence. Their death was not in vain: they are the silver tray on which Israel's independence was given to the people. Poritzky inverts the order of events in his work: it is not the star of David, the symbol of the state of Israel, which is on the silver tray, but the yellow arm patch. With this simple act of interchanging, Poritzky suggests that the sacrifice that was needed for the establishment of the state of Israel was not the casualties of the War of Independence but the victims of the Holocaust. Poritzky creates here a clear connection between the Holocaust and the establishment of the state of Israel. Thus he works against the ethos of the Zionist revival, which repressed the victims of the Holocaust, and saw as a disgrace their willingness to go as sheep to the slaughter. After all, the essence of the Zionist revolution was the persistent striving for a radical, internal change in body and soul, that was supposed to ensure that one would never again be led to the slaughter. Poritzky's work revives the presence of the victims of the Holocaust, whose existence has been repressed and silenced by the ethos of the Zionist revival. The victims of the Holocaust with the yellow arm patch turn from weaklings to heroes, whose death was not in vain. On the contrary, their death is the silver tray on which the land of Israel was presented to a strong state of Israel.

 


Germania, September 2009