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A Wrinkle in the Mind: Notes from an Emigrant-Immigrant Daughter

A Wrinkle in the Mind brings together drawings made in the studio, archival images, and text to explore the convergence of migration, memory, and belonging in Israeli culture. The different things I combine -- research and autobiography; creativity and analysis; writing, drawing, collage, and photography; the hand and the mind -- do not converge easily into a single story line or argument. But, while working, I discovered that the looseness created when text and images do not quite cohere or faithfully reflect one another makes room for different ways of thinking about the issues they raise. With its autobiographical core, the project also attempts to place personal experiences within a broader social and historical context and in doing so, to take responsibility for other narratives silenced by the collective ethos they were a part of. 

What follows is an excerpt from the text-in-development and selected drawings


Spring, 1974. A ten-year-old girl strikes a pose in a black and white photograph taken inside an Israeli home. Outfitted for an outdoor trek, she packs a knapsack buckled around a folded blanket on her back, slings a canvas bag across one shoulder, and supports a rolled sleeping bag against her standing hip, most of its weight lodged on two military canteens strapped to a belt around her waist. A crisp new kovah tembel (fool’s hat), the crease still showing at the front, completes her display. Of all the objects that she wears on her body, this accessory declares her national identity most clearly to the viewer, and, given that she migrated with her family from the United States to Israel only nine months earlier, the identity is almost as new as the hat. The photograph documents the girl preparing for what was in the 1970s still a foundational ritual in the Israeli socialization process, a three-day overnight hike with children of her age group designed to cultivate their “love for the land” (ahavat ha-aretz) by tramping them across it. Her face projects the eagerness and satisfaction that one might expect to see in a child equipped with all the right gear for an upcoming adventure outdoors. But these feelings do not absorb her entirely; she is also on show, self-consciously modeling clothing and props that in 1974 marked her as a new young Israeli citizen. The girl takes on the role scripted for Israeli youth by the state, performing national identity in affectionate collusion with her parents standing behind the camera. At the same time, while they enacted the “play” in the privacy of their home and preserved its record within the intimate space of a family album, the photograph also represents the family’s attachment to public codes, and efforts to comply with a state narrative, to which the adults had decided to submit them all. In this photograph then, the intertwined themes of domesticity, kinship, immigration, and national identity all converge upon the body of the child standing at its center.

Meneh Otam (Count Them) II -- After Amichai. 2011
Maneh Otam (Count Them) II -- After Amichai.  2012
Patriots. 2007
Im Ha'gav La'yam (With Backs Facing the Sea). 2007
From the series In the Sea Your Hometown Church is Floating - After Leah Goldberg.. 2011. 
New Citizen. 2011
The phrase "A Wrinkle in the Mind" is drawn from Anton Shammas' novel Arabesques
"Grandmother Alia married the son of that wanderer and never
managed to extinguish the passion for wandering that smoldered in the breast of Jubran, the heir who fell to her lot, or of her son Jiryes, the only one of her children 
to inherit that "wrinkle in the mind." She who marries a gypsy, as the saying goes, will learn in the end to hold the tambourine for him. But my grandmother never learned, nor did she manage, when she was nursing Uncle Jiryes, to infuse his body with 
the serenity which comes from staying home." 

Gavrush (Sabra). n.d. Image courtesy of the Palmach House
Untitled (National Consolidation). 2009
all art works and text copyright Noga Wizansky, 2012 
all art works and text copyright 2012, Noga Wizansky