What initially appears to be a harmless piece of interior décor, childlike and even playful, on closer inspection turns out to harbor difficult issues.
“Heavy Curtain” is a collage of children’s drawings that Laufer found in the archives of Kibbutz Hazorea, Israel. The drawings were created by first- to third-graders during the Israeli Holocaust Commemoration Day in the mid 1980s. Done with modest means, such as pencils and pens in black and yellow, they reflect some distressing and poignant truths. Trees and flowers mingle with more distressing images of tears and symbolically laden images of the swastika (illegal to draw / display in Germany outside of educational contexts) and the Star of David, also as the Nazi-connoted yellow “Judenstern”. The curtain unfolds the drama of remembrance and education, of clichés and stereotypes, as well as the devastating emotional pain with which the “third generation” grew up.
In an exhibition where artists’ biographies play a role, the curtain offers a private and intimate atmosphere. It is also reminiscent of a theatre curtain, reminding us that the personal is political. Private stories are staged in a manner in which it is impossible, perhaps even irrelevant, to separate truth from fiction. A curtain usually frames what the public will see. In this way, metaphorically, it stands for the construct through which we view and experience the world. Or in this case, how the children viewed and experienced their world in that particular time and place.
A curtain also allows us to look at it…or to ignore it.