The Guardian / Sycamore Group (2013)
Based on documents retrieved from the Kibbutz Hazorea Archives in Israel, The Guardian / Sycamore Group provides a unique insight into the inner-workings of children’s homes in the 1970s. The shomeret (in Hebrew, female guardian or caretaker) was an important role at the children’s home. This duty fell to the women of the kibbutz and consisted of a week’s worth of night shifts, twice a year.
The shomeret would sit alone in a small, 15sqm room and do her ‘rounds’ or ‘checks’ each night to ensure everything was okay. Any child in need of attention, whether because he or she was sick, sad, bullied or just had a bad dream, could call the shomeret through a small receiver hung on the wall. The call for help or attention began almost always with the words “shomeret, shomeret”. Once the shomeret attended to a child, she noted the event in a “shomeret’s diary” that was kept in each and every children’s home.
The Guardian / Sycamore Group is an illustrated short story based entirely on information extracted from these diaries entries.
Meine Geschichte (2011)
Meine Geschichte reconfigures selected passages from Befreiung und Wanderleben (Liberation and the Wandering Life), the final part in Meine Lebensgeschichte (My Life Story), the autobiography by 19th century author Fanny Lewald (1811–1889), to create a new novelette. With the original text as her unique source material, Laufer cut and reorganized the passages out of their original context, according to moods and rhythm. Essentially an ensemble of annotated quotes, the recreated novelette engages in an obsessive dialogue with its source, sustaining a constant play between layers of time and experience.
Of Jewish-Prussian origin, Lewald gained considerable fame and popularity in the mid 19th century, yet nowadays she is known mostly among historians and literary scholars. Written in the form of a monologue, Meine Lebensgeschichte is narrated from the standpoint of the 30 year-old author, recently relocated to Berlin and looking back at her past literary endeavors. It was there, in Berlin, that her writing talent was first recognized and rewarded, and we follow her as her emotional overture and detailed observations gradually take over the narrative.
In Laufer’s recreated novelette, Lewald’s first-person perspective is broken down into a multitude of strands and points of view. Are these independent narrators or rather one and the same woman being described from different standpoints? Does the narrator speak of another woman? Is she being described by a third person? Although each word comes from Lewald’s book, this story appears to be Laufer’s own.