In the Name of My Fathers (2008)
Site-specific installation at the Marienkirche, Stralsund, prints pasted on cardboard, dimensions variable
24 figures of saints and apostles, in life size, face the viewer at the nave of the church of St Mary in Stralsund, a city in Vorpommern, northern Germany. They were drawn directly from the figures that populate the great wooden altarpiece at the church, which depicts the coronation of Mary (Marienkrönungsaltar).
Laufer has rendered the late-gothic figures of this altarpiece – the work of an unknown master – in her free-form line, drawings that were later printed and enlarged. The backside of each figure carries stories and anecdotes related to persons from her childhood in a kibbutz in Israel, whose names correspond to the saintly figure seen at the front.
Heroic Doodles (2006–2007)
Acrylic and oil on canvas, dimensions variable
Though they epitomize the golden age of Dutch panting, 17th century flower paintings belong in a genre traditionally placed at the bottom of the hierarchy of painting. In Heroic Doodles, Laufer takes up this least heroic of subject-matters, which to this day is associated the realm of the domestic and undemanding. Departing from reproductions of masterworks in the genre, she employs a systematic process that, while generating critical distance, results in highly dynamic, intuitive reworkings of the originals.
Reproductions were projected and traced in pastels and oils, with the drawing projected in turn and retraced – again and again. The repeated tracing is toyed with technically and metaphorically, to the extent that the carefully-rendered flowers are now just brush strokes emptied of meaning. Following the original composition, a small vase is persistently present at the bottom, yet owing to the large format – typically 2.4 by 2.7 meters – the act of painting was physical and all-consuming, gradually dwarfing the vases that can barely contain the wild proliferation of flowers.
Dutch still-life arrangements encode religious and ethical meanings that escape the modern eye. The bouquets in Dutch painting represent a mixture of seasonal varieties that cannot, in reality, coexist. The flowers that make-up these impossible bouquets are represented at the height of their bloom, signifying grandeur alongside imminent decay. In Laufer’s magnified reiterations, the overly-lush painterly gestures come to signify the possibilities and impossibilities in painting with romanticism and galore.
Carbon Footprints (2006)
Carbon paper markings transferred to paper, dimensions variable
Addressing the tradition of the British Landscape and painting out in the open, directly from nature, Carbon Footprints departs from Constable reproductions. Placing carbon paper underneath, Laufer drew directly on the reproductions, tracing Constable’s marks – arguably the foremost figure in the genre – as a way of revisiting the theme.
The visibly vibrant bluish marks left on the paper echoes the experience of the British wilderness and the romantic notion of artistic journeying in nature. Yet here, the sense of discovery, excitement and grandeur was reproduced from home and remains “environmentally friendly”.