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tomette jauneIlana SALAMA ORTAR


Ilana Salama Ortar

Ilana Salama Ortar was born in Alexandria, Egypt. In the early 1950s her family was forced to leave Egypt with a one-way pass (laissez-passer). En route to Israel they passed through a transit camp known as the camp of the Jews. The fact of having been expelled from her home town, in addition to her family’s ancestral heritage – offspring of Spain’s expelled Jews who then wandered across Europe via Hebron (Palestine) before reaching Alexandria – she has a sharpened sensitivity towards issues of forced Displacement, in terms of Uprooting, Refugeeism, Immigra- tion & Exile.

Her art projects (Civic Performance Art) are intercultural performative installations that focus on transition, migra- tion, mobility, and memory, particularly concerning zones of con ict (warzones, occupied territories, or the ghet- toisation of segments of populations living in suburbs), and their consequences for individuals and groups, cities, and landscapes. Those art projects consist of encounters with the public, participatory video & sound installations, drawings, paintings, photograms, documentary lms, stage design models and architectural structures.

The artist has extensive experience in exhibiting and publishing on this topic. She has exhibited in New York (The Drawing Centre), Paris (École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris), Marseille (European Capital of Culture, MP13; ESADMM, École supérieure d’art & design), Lyon (Biennial of contemporary art), Jerusalem (solo exhibition at Israel Museum) and Tel Aviv (solo exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art) amongst others. Her research mono- graph The Camp of the Jews, is about art, culture, memorial heritage and Civic Performance Art.

Her works have a place in the public collections of multiple museums: the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY); Gug- genheim Museum of Art (NY); Brooklyn Museum of Art (NY); Philadelphia Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Hous- ton (Texas); Bibliotheque nationale, (Paris); Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam); Den Haag Gemeente Museum, The Hague; The Israel Museum (Jerusalem) and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. 

Berlin Diary  (Photograms).

The writings we nd in Urban Traces – Illana Salama Ortar’s intimate notebook –continue the accounts she has made whilst exploring cities, this time Berlin.The writings of the notebook, as well as her drawings since 1987, provide a form of mental and linguistic grounding for the artist.

She explores, collects, and then acts on a daily basis by creating frag- mented representations which emerge as relics; drawings which take from, or undo, the thread of the original frames. Jacques Derrida wrote:

I already admired, as I told you, your rst Urban Traces. Today, I stand riveted before this new series. Riveted before its movement, yet car- ried away motionlessly in the whirlwind of the melodic cell (a sort of Zim-Zum that engenders, layer upon layer, nothing more than its own archive, not its memory, but the archival trace of its erasure). What is extraordinary is that these drawings are not inscribed on – or not erased from – the substrate, the supporting surface. Rather they emerge from the substrate itself, from its most intimate seismic tremor.

The photogram involves working directly on paper, and on the image in the dark room – which becomes an expe- rimental laboratory. The combination of acid and light reacts on the photographic paper, each page becoming a unique piece which sees a recasting of the graphic images in Urban Traces: reproduced in black and white nega- tives; drawings carried out directly onto the new layers. The process accentuates their very value as images, and returns the images to the artist – a new exuberance to their imaginary function.