Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Bezalel Final Artwork - מאין יבוא עזרי

מאין יבוא עזרי
(For Michael.)
Cassi-Lee Gewer
Pastel on board and cardboard

From whence shall my help cometh? Life and death are two common notions that surround us daily – it is how they are dealt with that defines them. Both drawings are of scenes captured by Cassi-Lee Gewer at Har Herzl (the Israeli military cemetery in Jerusalem). This is a place that is dear to her heart, one in which she states established and now enhances her connection with Israel.

In the first drawing – the scene displays an ritual that Cassi-Lee follows, whereby she will journey to Har Herzl in order to water the graves of the fallen soldiers. This is when the irony between life and death comes into play – the act of going to a cemetery, which is a place surrounded by death in order to sustain and provide life to the flora which rests on the grave of the soldier. The word rest used in the context of Har Herzl, is in connection to the symbolism of the grave representing a bed, the tombstone being its pillow and the flowers imitating a blanket. Another connection between the two artworks and Har Herzl is that each grave at the military cemetery has one stone that is places unevenly – making it stand out. This then represents the part of the nation that is now missing. Within both of the drawings there is a substantial segment missing. Relating to the incompleteness of the artwork- being dedicated to those who have fallen, the artwork is eternally without its viewers.

The water symbolises our impact on this country, our responsibility to honour, remember and therefore protect the names of those who are not with us today. The duty of the soldier to protect (as seen within the drawing), together with the protection of the flowers over the grave are both ironic when placed within a site such as Har Herzl – a place that honours the protection that as a country and as a nation, we lost. Once more in connection to the theme of vacancy.

The title of the artwork “מאין יבוא עזרי" comes from a psalm that is dedicated to the honouring of those troops who we have lost and the protection of the ones that are fighting today.

The personal journey between the artist and life and death is evident within the artworks, the title being in Hebrew as Cassi-Lee is in a transition zone of placing Hebrew as her dominant language over English, honouring Israel as she plans to make her stay here permanent – therefore the death of her South African citizenship and the birth of an Israeli one. The irony of Cassi-Lee seeking Har Herzl in order to gather her thoughts and rejuvenate – symbolism the death of her negative energy and the new life of a positive one.

The two artworks although completely separate are connected by the piece of paper that has been torn from the page and placed on the other. Symbolising those who have been departed from the physical world, who have completed their mission which is unknown to us and who are now placed in Har Herzl and are resting in a place unknown to the living mankind.

We raise our heads to those who grace the graves that line the floors of Har Herzl, we all salute those who have protected us and we will continue to water and guard our country with protection, strength and life so that no more beds will have to be made.

Lo Yanum Velo Yiyshan Shomer Yisrael.
לא ינום ולא יישן שומר ישראל
He that keepth Israel doth neither slumber nor sleep.

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