Dream Shaper | Yael Serlin | Recipient of Be’eri Gallery Prize #1, Fresh Paint Art Fair 2021

Dream Shaper | Yael Serlin

Curator: Sofie Berzon MacKie

Ziva Jelin

Yael Serlin is the winner of Bee’ri Gallery Prize for Excellence in Arts, launched at Fresh Paint art Fair 2021

On Invisible Stitches

“Dream Shaper” by Yael Sarlin is a multi-layered exhibition that offers a glimpse into her world and other worlds. Fused together are layer upon layer of personal and collective memory. Serlin operates as a researcher of extinct cultures: turning stones to find traces of the past, visiting cemeteries, sifting through archives of Jewish communities in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, and gathering old photographs, objects, symbolic images, and stories. The question of home, identity, and memory she dealt with in her early works, is still present in this body of work. She is widening the circle, wandering through the depths of the past, what’s left and buried otherwhere.

It’s a story told through the things that are missing from it, outlines of lives and communities. Layers of cut-out paper pile up, the cut-out objects leave gaping traces. Whatever left the trace is long gone, leaving behind a ghost embedded in the sand. Layers upon layers like a barrow, stacking up like a fissured glass lens born from a black background. Something is removed and, at the same time, added. A thread pulls down and up in a swing or scales motion. Something is pulling, and something is pulled, in and out, between a community’s past and personal identity.

Serlin weaves gold threads on “trees-of-life ” she found discarded on their way to be buried in the Genizah. Through the tangle of threads, she adds an allotment of life, additional time in this world before moving on to the next. A disorganized heap is paved, converged, spiraled, descending in a funnel that restores the order: chaos on one side, golden thread on the other, and a pair of hands weaving, embroidering, and cutting in the middle, following the material throughout its changing states.

Gold threads coil from delicate embroidery works. Symbols, taken from Jewish graves – A lifetime drains through a small vortex, down through time, into a solid solitary form. Wild scraps of thread attached them to us. A tiny hand reaches out, as a thread leads into the bird, the ladder, and the house. If we pull it, will it unravell or will we be pulled into it. The Greek thread of life comes to mind; the scissors that cut it and the delicate link in form of a single action separating life from death, reality from dreams, concrete worlds and memory merged into the past or into ourselves. We carry the world within us, and it carries us within it.

In her video “Dreams,” Selin draws parallels between memory and dream. Her voice echoes David Albahari’s brilliant text that deals with the fine line that separates the real world from the dream world.

“…There are people who, falling into long and deep dreams, wander so far away that they fail to return on time … they squat next to the line of separation, which from that side looks like a vast wall, and wait for the door to the real world to open and let them through to the other side … Artists are the only ones capable of crossing unnoticed the line of separation between reality and dreams … to visit the sleeping and then to announce to the ones wide awake – by words or images, by sounds or voice – what they have learned in the world behind eyelids…

From the depths of her research, Yael indeed returns, announcing to us, opening our eyes. In the video, the sound and rhythm of the cutting scissors can be heard: dissecting, extracting, cutting and combining, and moving into a different space.

The big collage work covering the gallery wall quotes The Eastern Wall, a wall of longing for a distant and sacred place from the past, a collective memory of separation and yearning. The wall becomes an entrance to another world, a dimension separating/connecting worlds, a frozen threshold moment, a receptacle for objects of identity suspended just before consolidating or a moment after disintegrating. Held tenderly and tensely in the artist’s hands. The wholeness of a thing is its finiteness, and finiteness is death. It is a divide between existence and non-existence, of a dream and the moment of awakening from it. A moment that can turn into anything, holding within it every possibility – taking and stripping form, rising or falling, life, or existence, within the dream worlds.

Yael Serlin is like a wanderer through the world and between worlds. She loses a sense of time and space, the boundary between the here and now, and between dream and reality, personal and collective. She operates within her own world, collecting, documenting, photographing, replicating, cutting, composing, sewing, and even embroidering her images with gold thread. A laborious and restless act of collecting, cutting, pasting, and creating a new image – A new world between wakefulness and dream.

Sofie Berzon MacKie, Dr. Ziva Jelin


More images from the exhibition