The connection between two Israeli artists who were born in another land, and immigrated to Israel at a young age forms the basis for the idea of the “Immigrants” exhibit. Dorit Beck was born in Vienna and made Aliyah at a young age; Daria Konshtik was born in Ukraine and had the experience of being raised as a “Russian girl” in Israel. Both artists’ works primarily concern the immigrational experience within the context of destruction and reassembly – whereby the individual’s immigrational experience is at times felt directly, and at others only hinted at indirectly – through games of shapes and colors; through displays of objects and vantages identified with the lands of their births interconnecting with displays of objects and Israeli landscapes.
At the age of 6, Dorit arrived to Israel from Vienna – with all its rich, well-maintained urban views, verdant greenery, European education, and material prosperity. She had arrived at the end of 1967, after the Six Days War, from a lovely decorated house in the city to a tiny dilapidated apartment, until they finished building the new one her parents had bought in Givatayim. The culture shock was immense, the other kids in class were vicious. Drawing and coloring served as her only outlet. Beck paints the “here and now” in optimistic colors, trying to enliven the pain of leaving her beloved grandmother in Vienna. Grandma Stella: she loved to make huge rugs with intricate patterns; she restored and collected Austro-Hungarian textiles – traditional fabrics with patterns characteristic of different regions – hence Beck’s inspiration to draw “patterns” and refer to shapes in nature as a source for the game between the ordered and the laconic.
As someone born in Ukraine, and raised in Israel, Daria deals with questions regarding the influence and convergence of Russian and Ukrainian cultures in the realm of Israeli discourse, and examines her identity as a Russian woman in Israel, by way of a traditional Russian doll – Matryoshka, serving as her alter ego. Through her work, Konshtik poses questions: Is the female body just a product which can be broken down to raw meat? Is a woman just a body? What is it to be a Russian woman in Israel? Will every Russian woman be labeled “Russian whore”? In some of these pieces, the “Sabra” attempts to dominate his space, but fails to actually do so. Traditional symbols, legends, and cultural traditions are characterized in her works as psychological constructs at the boundary of the conscious and unconscious, between the personal and the collective.
In Beck and Konshtik’s works, the “game” becomes concrete. It acts as a reminder of well-known assembly games, providing insights into the formal aspect appearing in fascinating works – displaying geometric shapes inlaid in round or amorphous shapes; braids building new shapes in a checkerboard pattern; a flower pot on a table losing all memory of circular flow; order and chaos being rebuilt, concealed, and revealed – clandestinely hinted at or bluntly confronted with. Each one’s internal experience deconstructs to the universal, and rebuilds identities reflecting the experience that is “Immigration”.