1989-1990, 22 collages on handmade
“This series is a meditation on the Holocaust and its reverberations
in the post-Holocaust generation, my generation. It consists of 22
collages on handmade paper with inclusions of painted Xeroxes, gold
leaf and other materials such as hair, leaves, ashes, bark, burnt
The work is divided into two sections, Day and Night.
Like unleavened bread, with its connotations of the Jews’ flight
from Egypt, Day conveys feelings of haste and fear.
I used very simple elements, always the same- gold leaf, pigment,
identity pictures, hair, pages from ledgers. The handmade paper is
use d both as a background in large sheets and as a thin layer pressed
over the images, conveying the frailty of human skin.
Night uses larger formats, darker backgrounds, this
time not in skin tones but in purples, greens, grays, blues: imaginary
landscapes with theirmists, clouds and perspectives are summoned.
More complex layering intervenes with torn edges of handmade paper,
a mixture of abaca and linen, making the collages appear almost tri-dimensional,
as in bas-reliefs. Words by witnesses from the camps, such as “
The color of the Germans, green, like this”, “I have seen
flames”, “The earth rippled like waves because of the
gas”; as they were spoken in Lanzmann’s film Shoah, appear
in the compositions.
While Day is more of a narrative without words, Night
deals with memory, obsession, maybe even exorcism and hope. In both
parts I have used symbolic elements from the Holocaust (hair, identity
pictures, gold, ledgers), but have tried to turn these symbols of
death into signs of life, growth and transformation. The gold becomes
a background, as in icons; the hair, plant or flame; the identity
pictures are given the dignity of portraits.
My family, like all Egyptian Jews, was untouched by the Holocaust:
Rommel was stopped at Al-Alamein before he could reach Cairo. Why
then have I found necessary to explore this theme that is not “mine”?
Perhaps it is because of the recent birth of my first-born son that
images of children’s deaths began to haunt me. I felt both obsessed
and vulnerable. People in my generation, I began to feel, should understand
the legacy of the Holocaust and keep it within their memory.
As a European (I grew up in Switzerland and France), I believe that
as Germany reunifies, this understanding becomes a necessity: otherwise
the Shoah will float I Europe’s memory like a ghost, haunting
Jews and Germans alike.
It cannot be a coincidence that these collages were done since the
political liberalization of East Germany”
“ This artist proves in her collages a most impressive aesthetic
and material control, integrated with visual sensitivity and are strained
emotional drama, which achieve their fullest expression in the “Holocaust
Series”. Here Carole Naggar exhibits an outstanding ability
to combine the post personal with the metaphysical without ever falling
into the traps of sentimentalism and melodrama.”
Dr Gideon Ofrat
Curator and Art Historian, Jerusalem
“ Carole Naggar resumes an acquaintance with the imaginary
of the Shoah not on the basis of a personal or family experience but
as a preoccupation that surges again in her on the occasion of her
child’s birth. So that it is all the density of the drama that
comes back to her through the mediation of the new generation. This
come-back also has this particularity that memory’s work is
done through the remoteness of the object, confirming what memory
specifically is: an obsession whose object is distanced, since no
life experience, and no sentimental dramatization, is a-priori implicated
in it: so I associate Carole Naggar’s techniques, for instance
Xerox and collage, with this double reality of distance and painful
Jacques Leenhardt, President, Association of Art Critics