A prison of a secret
Curator: Tamar Dresdner
Scraps of metal fence serve as the basis for a wall piece in Batia Shani’s installation. The metal is covered by another layer of cardboard which functions as a form of an archetypical house, like a sign of a house, on which the artist placed unwoven children’s vests. These vests were originally knitted to wrap and protect the child who will wear them, to keep him warm. But something went wrong – unwoven and damaged, they can no longer serve their purpose. The mixture of materials that juxtaposes the cold, metallic material with the soft and warm wool, separated
by the cardboard, creates a system of opposites.
The association between the female body and trauma is a recurring theme in Shani’s art, but in the installation In a Prison of a Secret she touches on domestic violence, focusing particularly on violence against women and children. In families where children are not the victims of direct violence and the mother is subjected to physical and emotional abuse, the children who witness
it are also severely affected by psychological damage, which in the future will cause some of them to repeat violent patterns in their own families. The imperative of silence, so often
imposed on the victims, exacerbates the trauma.
The installation includes punching bags wrapped in embroidered garments, which hang alongside
women’s undergarment that were also embroidered by the artist. The phallic punching bags, usually identified with a predominately masculine sport, also function as an image of a battered woman, creating a duality of femininity and masculinity in one object.
In these works, Batia Shani uses clothes that were worn and still carry the memory of the body, and pieces of used fabrics on which she embroiders images and texts that simulate blood, bruises and cuts. Using a technique of embroidery, unraveling, and defacement, the needle cuts and pierces the fabric on the one hand, but also mends and opens a passage for air, breathing, and hope on the other hand.