“During a recent trip to Berlin I embarked on an endeavor to understand the sobering inability to communicate loss through material. Being in Germany and Austria, I was struck for the first time in my life by my relationship (or lack thereof) to my Jewish heritage and upbringing. This peculiar personal dilemma was combined with my interest in how specific materials and forms are consistently used in Jewish memorials to signify and materialize loss. Over and over and over again I was faced with concrete stelae, columns, as the material reminders of lives and bodies lost. Standing in front of these monuments I was faced with the material reality of the voids in my own life. Walking the space in between these monuments, I knew I was standing in the space of loss that cannot be seen, as it is not known. The immense loss of lives will never be tangible to me nor will the reverberating consequences of a family unknown to me. As I delve into ancestry research, the map of where my family is from is negative space, places where they once were, and then passed through or passed away. Space where form exists but is gone from me, from my map of knowing.
Materials that mimic that monumentality such as granite and steel are positioned along side ephemeral objects that are made from materials such as powdered graphite, thread, and a clay imprint of a lost loved one’s shirt. The work explores the physical and emotional voids manifested through loss and the human nature to reach out and touch these spaces. On a sheet of carbon copy paper the script from the interior scroll of a mezuzah has been traced and subsequently becomes legible only through its absence. Objects are made with a sense of urgency and failure, often unstable and precarious. Acting as artifacts, these gestures allude to a deep sentimentality that verges on superstition as memory, or lack thereof, pervades.” – Hannah Hersko
Materials: Steel, tracing paper, powdered graphite, inkjet print, ink on fabric, tissues, ceramics, thread, carbon copy paper.
Hannah Hersko is an artist based in Cincinnati.
Photos courtesy the artist.