Nadin Bar Noy | In a Different Light

Nadine Bar-Noy is a multidisciplinary artist, instructor, and creator in sculpture, painting, photography, video, and unique techniques of her own development, which combine paper, polymer sheets, and lighting fixtures. In 2009, she moved back to her childhood home in Sderot, where she works, conducts workshops, and continues cultivating her father’s garden.

In the past decade, she has conducted imaginary conversations with her mother while going through the family album; these have led her creative work to new realms and brought troubling issues to its center. One of them is the harrowing experience of parting from her mother.

Her exhibition at the Beeri Gallery deals with a culture that has faded, an immigrant community that had to let go of its cultural roots and adopt habitual patterns which were perceived as correct in the eyes of the new environment. Thus, the parent’s generation renounced their culture and refrained from passing it on to the next generation. They concealed it in their hearts, making sure to wear the proper masks to please and fulfill society’s expectations.

The image of the oriental tile reoccurs in the exhibition; it reappears in the works and represents the longing for the lost culture of which only remnants remain. A floor of a room emptied of its contents and a soundtrack that’s been stored all these years.

The illuminated oriental tiles floor, created on a large scale, represents the life that Nadine’s parents, founders of the city of Sderot, left behind; The caressing Arabic language of the Maghreb, the stories, the songs, the garments, the tableware, the ceremonies, the memories, and the common sayings.

The rabbit image, camouflaged in the tile pattern, has accompanied Nadine for the past decade, changing roles. It represents the time parameter in its various appearances, like Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit. At times, it’s a laboratory rabbit – the object of experiments, standing in the front line of the Gaza Envelope, like a pawn for politicians and rulers, a living target, drawn to a dizzying, repetitive dance to the sounds of whistling missiles.

In the series of illuminated works from the family album, several pictures represent important figures or crossroads in her life: sitting On a chair in the Garden, The Quintet– a picture from the Hadassim boarding school where she was educated with her friends, Orli doll– a picture with her sister in the yard, and a picture of her father, Mr. Azoulay, a unique man who used to arrive at his barbershop riding his bicycle in a tailor-made suit, a button-down shirt, a colorful tie, and a gray felt hat adorned with satin ribbon. Just like he used to dress in Casablanca. A culture relic he managed to preserve his whole life. Another picture shows Mama Ishtar(Esther), a unique grandmother, a significant figure who accompanied Nadine in her childhood, cared for her when her parents were busy earning a living, and taught her the Moroccan (Maghreb Arabic) language. Another picture, A Floor is Home, displays a home rug that corresponds with the ornamentation of the oriental tiles. There’s a painting called The Tin Shackin the niche: Nadine’s parents are standing with her, one year old, against the tin shack where the family lived until their permanent home was built.

On another wall, three works are placed; self-portraits taken from the series ‘Blurring,’ in which the artist is painted white and black. She paints her body and clothes as if covering herself with a mask or cleansing herself of it. This action represents the foreign immigrants’ sacrifice and the relinquishment they make of parts of their identity. They are willing to hide their true identity, their deepest essence, and the culture they were educated on to assimilate.

In the corner of the gallery, there are suitcases. From one emanates Moroccan music, which is hardly heard at home, because of the fear of preserving an unacceptable, non-Israeli heritage; songs covered by Neta Elkayam, Miri Mesika, and Avi Gusto. Another suitcase stands broken; all its precious contents spilled and scattered, and only the oriental floor replica stuck to it.

Nadine uses various techniques in her work, most of which she invented herself, skillful craft. Layers of fine paper cuts create spectacular works, with the back-light passing through them, creating shades of brown and gray based on the paper’s stratification. Toiling, meticulous and Sisyphean work of drawing, cutting, gluing and sewing, frames and lightboxes building. Even the gallery window is lit and looks like an additional work she created. The toiling tradition, coercive wisdom, was passed on to her from her mother, an experienced and talented dressmaker, and from her father, the first hairdresser in Sderot.

The exhibition, opening on the fifth day of Hanukkah, brings a different light, an enlightened and annotated look back at the past and the artist’s family culture; a rich culture that was interrupted in its’ bud and was not passed on to the next generation.

Nadin Bar Noy | In a Different Light
Dr. Ziva Jelin

More images from the exhibition