A Woman in the Big Cities: Wandering - Traces Around the House - Photographs 1982-2012

Rivka Dvora Mayer


Is this conflict? Do the visual echoes of what can be conceived by the word "conflict" resound? Here is a woman wandering through big cities, and for thirty years photographing traces found on walls, in shop windows and in urban spaces. The woman wanders the city over various paths beginning from a street near Dizengoff Center and ending up back there. All through her life she collects traces that create a bridge between times and places.

A Woman in the Big Cities is an ongoing presence in Rivka D. Mayer’s life. The woman is wandering in geographical, research and intellectual territories, bringing findings that become working materials for the activities of the artist, writer and researcher: in visual art and poetry, academic research and activities in the world.

The wanderer’s view is an existential standpoint. The act of photography is a ritual enacted in daily life; it is a mode of existence. It erupts out of life, catching the wanderer’s eye. It is evidence to its emergence into the world.

The traces are a by-product of interventions that erupted into the paths of a daily  routine, leaving their traces on the urban fabric. These traces are not experienced conceptually; they were not framed in advance as conflict. Rather, they are intersections of various trajectories within the creative networks of life, the life paths of the city, its people, and the interventions resulting from routine and arbitrary trails. Among these one may also find expressions of conflict.

What the wanderer encounters, what attracts her attention, are traces of the changes that the path of time has left in urban spaces. Sometimes these traces are what people have left behind from their daily lives, at other times these traces are reminiscent of the events they encountered along their daily route.

One of the trajectories that the wanderer encounters may be referred to as "politics" - or "conflict" - as revealed through visual traces left by events on the urban fabric. Whether arbitrary or deliberate, these traces consist of graffiti, drawings, words, phrases, political manifestos, calls to action or expressions of feeling which have been left behind on walls, shop windows or notice boards along the streets. For the wanderer, the political is personal, while the personal is political.

That which has been experienced as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is also part and parcel of being an Israeli artist. Since I create using all my life materials, hence the "conflict" is also an integral part of this. Therefore materials of “conflict” do not stand themselves in conflict with creative or personal life. It does infiltrate life, threatens as intervention for inner creative processes, penetrating them, demanding attention. Once the wanderer experiences such an intervention, she is compelled to document it in the same way that she would document the daily life she encounters around her, as it appears on notice boards, in display windows, on walls, as well as inside her home territory.

These photographs have been created through a reciprocal interaction between the inside and the outside, the aesthetic and the ethical. Indeed, any visual expression of a conflict also has an aesthetic dimension when presented in one artistic context or another. This perspective indicates to the viewer the aesthetic aspect of the drama taking place on the surface of a notice board or a shop window, in the intersection between images and written words of notices, graffiti, or personal expressions of the "conflict" that people have written.

The intention of this display is to establish a way of experiencing the work that recreates the sense of arbitrariness of the drama that unfolded along a meandering trajectory, but which was left behind with every step. The drama of traces of conflict flickered for a moment, blinked, and emerged from a wall, only to be covered over by other arbitrary traces of the everyday, the quotidian. Conflict, if so we choose to name the human drama embodied in some of those traces, flickers like torn remnants amongst other traces of life trajectories.


  Mayer-Exhibition (4.00 MB)










Rivka D. Mayer is an artist and photographer. She holds an MA in Studies of Contemporary Art, from the University of Liverpool. She presently studies at the interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Science, Technology and Society at Bar Ilan University. She graduated the State Art Teacher's Training College, Ramat-Hasharon, and studied stage design and puppetry in the Theatre department, Tel Aviv University. Her activities include exhibitions, curatorship, writing for exhibitions and artists’ catalogues, writing in daily newspaper (Davar) and art and culture periodicals (Studio, Iton77), as well as poetry publications. In addition, she lectured at the department of New Media at the Naggar school of Photography, Media, New Music, Animation and Phototherapy in Musrara, Jerusalem and is also a self-employed lecturer.

Conflict: Antagonism and Creation