Yaakov (2015)

Color prints, 42cm x 59.4cm

Old catalogue reproductions of sculptural work by Berlin-born, Israeli artist Yochanan Ben Yaakov (1913–2003), were cut out, painted over and pasted together. They were then photographed, reprinted and drawn over again. The resulting two-dimensional works are an amalgamation of sculpture, collage and painting.

Ben Yaakov, who immigrated to Israel in 1933 and settled at Kibbutz Hazorea, is best known for his sculptures, murals and other public art. Laufer, a native of Kibbutz Hazoera, undertakes an intricate process where monumental pieces transform into fragile, minuscule swirls that are placed against colored backgrounds, in compositions that recall the studio setting of the portrait tradition.

With the absurd adaptation and appropriation of his oeuvre, Laufer revisits Ben Yaakov’s artistic persona and his frequent use of found objects – characteristics that, growing up, shaped her idea of an artist’s persona at large. The work also alludes to the semantics of Yaakov, one of the three Patriarchs in the Old Testament, whose name designates ‘one who follows on another’s heels’ – a supplanter.

Masterpieces (2012)

Paper and glue, dimensions variable

A totem-like erection in black-and-white, Masterpieces was collaged together from hundreds of drawings that Laufer had made during regular visits to the British Museum in 2006–2007. With this organically-shaped pole of crumpled sketches, her own collection of British Museum masterpieces has finally found an emblematic, yet formless form. The work plays with the notion of colonial-era museums by referencing exoticism on the one hand, and presentation and perception on the other.

Public collections raise questions about place, time and the sense of belonging. Objects are displaced and uprooted from familiar surroundings and their original sense of purpose dysfunctions in the imposed contexts. The fetishized artifacts invite fantasies and, whether taking an escape road or an analogical route, politically – privately or publicly, museums as such are places of projection and introspection.

The habit of drawing from museum collections has fallen from favor, allowing the freedom to approach the custom away from the constraints of academic training. Initially seduced formally, Atalya took perverse pleasure in this supposedly archaic process, reclaiming the humorous, erotic and poetic potential supplied by the art objects. Her attempts to make a cohesive and more ambitious statement resulted in a series of multi-layered acetate collages. By re-drawing her drawings on the thin material, arranging and rearranging them, the work grew more complex. Masterpieces manipulates the notions of ‘transparency,’ ‘reflection’ and ‘manipulation’ both literally and metaphorically.

Moden-Spiegel: Homage to Lieselotte Friedländer (2013)

Pen on transparent sheets

From 1922 to 1933, artist Lieselotte Friedländer (1898–1973) drew hundreds of illustrations, covers and vignettes for Moden-Spiegel (Fashion Mirror), the weekly fashion supplement of the popular Berliner Tageblatt, a Berlin daily. Sketched in black ink, Friedländer’s quick and whimsical lines depict the feminine ideal of the time, of an elegant, independent woman strolling along Berlin’s famed Kurfürstendamm.

One of the most successful fashion illustrators working in Berlin at the time, Friedländer was fired from the Tageblatt at the height of her career, in 1933. Being a “quarter-Jew” – according to Nazi classification – she was banned from practicing her profession (Berufsverbot), yet managed to survive the Nazi regime working odd jobs. Returning to West Berlin in 1949, she was unable to resume her previous career, dying impoverished and largely forgotten. Laufer’s installation pays homage to Friedländer on the very location seen in so many of her illustrations, allowing a peek into Berlin’s roaring 1920s.

Part of Spuren, Hohlräume Leerstellen: jüdisches Leben am Kurfürstendamm, a series of exhibits in display boxes in Kurfürstendamm organized by the UdK in conjunction with Berlin’s cultural theme for 2013, Diversity Destroyed: Berlin 1933–1938–1945

Click for the exhibition text by Stefanie Endlich (in German)