A collaborative participatory installation and ritual.
Sabile Jewish Synagogue Contemporary Art and Heritage Site
In June, 2014, as part of the 7th International Conference of Contemporary Cast Iron Art, artists Anna Shapiro, Margaret Coleman, and Justine Johnson will realize an exhibition of process, participation and ritual in the women’s balcony of the local synagogue in Sabile, Latvia.
The synagogue is a place of historical cultural significance as well as tragedy. It represents a community of 241 Jewish people, which served as a gymnasium during the communist era, and is now a cultural space. The exhibition is a reflection on displacement and loss, allowing viewers to participate in renewal, connection and transformation. The connectedness of the past, present and future is a rhizome running through time. The synagogue, the mass grave in the forest, connect though traditions of textiles, cast iron, and fire, are the cause and effect of this journey, in this place. The plurality of elements from the installation will be carried into the midsummer night of Janis to the Pedvale Open Air Museum and will ritually transformed through fire into one ceremonial marker to be left at a site in the forest.
“During my stay in Latvia in 2013 I was inspired to create work addressing a painful history of occupation, displacement and loss. I sought to create a new vision and ritual for myself and for others about gathering, healing and renewal. In this installation memories and dreams are woven into methods of making, materials are transformed by hand, in slow pace. As folklore and history move forward, transforming history into relevancy, people gather together in community and ritual. In the end we materializie the presence of absence and leave a small trace – a cast iron stone left as a memory.
“We work with our hands, a culmination of simple gestures, we travel far to do it, and it carries our intention with it from the beginning. As this installation has begun to author itself, it takes on a life of its own. Our collaboration develops and expands over time. Many hands processed the fibers in our backyards. We dried them. They travel with me to Latvia, where we will rehydrate them in the central river in Sabile As we pull sheets of the fiber and cast it onto stones, 241 of them, these cast paper sculptures symbolize a journey, dedication, fragility, intention.
“I place thread infused in iron, changing colour, drying in the wild flowered woods. Ritual of sewing, 241 cotton strips in various lengths, each strip I make = one life I remember, we remember, never to forget the darkest side of human nature. One, two, three stitches, knot, next and again and again. Total stitches 723. In my garden, I hear the sound of school children. There is hope.
3 small prayer shawls made by artist Aimee Hertog
On site assistance: Adam KC McGee Abe
To our friends and family and artists in conversation from around the world, we thank you for your support
We invite you to join our procession, carrying the paper stones up the road to Pedvale for a ceremony of transformation and release. We will place all of the paper stones on the red heat and the final stone will be of iron, to remain in the forest on the site of the memorial.