Esther Shalev-Gerz

1948 | Vilnius, Lithuania
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— Esther Shalev-Gerz

Frecnh video maker, photographer, and visual artist.

Consecrated in 2010 in France by her exhibition entitled Ton image me regarde!? held at the Jeu de Paume, Esther Shalev-Gerz has since the mid-1980s created installations based on the broadest affirmations of the themes of active memory and history through language. Videos predominate in her work, although these very often involve a sculptural arrangement or include photographs. Her work constitutes a series of testimonies – collections of individual stories treated in the form of portraits or as objects – as in MenschenDinge (The Human Aspect of Objects), created in 2004-2006 for the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora memorials. The artist grew up in Israel and graduated from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem in 1979. She then visited New York before settling in Paris in 1984. In 1986, for the city of Hamburg’s Monument against Fascism, she created a column standing 12 metres high that, as it becomes covered in inscriptions from passers-by, sinks and disappears into the ground. This work is emblematic of its author’s concerns, participating on the one hand in the debate on public space and the involvement of the spectator, and on the other hand evoking World War II from the perspective of memory and otherness.

In 1998, she invited the spectators at three Berlin theatres to perform the play by Peter Weiss, The Investigation (1965), relating the testimonies of the participants in the Auschwitz trials: judges, victims, and torturers. The event was highly publicised. Cultural memory is one of the preferred subjects of E. Shalev-Gerz, who has produced a number of video works on manifestations of language, filming both speech and the act of listening, and on the tiny expression that resides between two exchanges. Her art has crystallised into a form of resistance. The artist, who has stated that she only ever had male teachers, thus designed the installation Echoes in Memory, a series of 24 photographic images – portraits in the manner of 3D sculptures – of women who have influenced her, close friends and artists alike. Besides her participation at many conferences, she has taught at Valand Academy, at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

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Pauline Guélaud

Translated from French by Anna Knight.

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Esther Shalev-Gerz — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Esther Shalev-Gerz, In Visible, 2015, detail, 3D digital construction, natural pigments on archive paper, 100 x 100 cm, © Esther Shalev-Gerz

Esther Shalev-Gerz — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Esther Shalev-Gerz, Irréparable 19, La Plage, 1992, natural pigments on archive paper, 75 x 110 cm, © Esther Shalev-Gerz

Esther Shalev-Gerz — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Esther Shalev-Gerz, Daedal(us), 2003, projection on facade in Dublin, Ireland, © Esther Shalev-Gerz

Esther Shalev-Gerz — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Esther Shalev-Gerz et Jochen Gerz, Monument contre le fascisme, 1986, permanent installation, Hamburg-Harburg, Germany, © Studio Shalev-Gerz

Esther Shalev-Gerz — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Esther Shalev-Gerz, Describing Labor, 2012, detail of an installation, natural pigments on archive paper, 130 x 100 cm, © Esther Shalev-Gerz

Esther Shalev-Gerz — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Esther Shalev-Gerz, Entre l’écoute et la parole, Les derniers témoins, Auschwitz 1945-2005, 2012 silent video triptych, 40 min, installation, © Esther Shalev-Gerz

Esther Shalev-Gerz — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Esther Shalev-Gerz, First Generation, 2004, permanent installation, video projection, 40 min, soundtrack, 60 min, © Esther Shalev-Gerz

Esther Shalev-Gerz — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Esther Shalev-Gerz, Les Inséparables, 2000-2016, permanente installation, double-clock, animated sculpture, 300 x 185 x 35 cm, © Esther Shalev-Gerz

Esther Shalev-Gerz — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Esther Shalev-Gerz, Menschendinge, 2006, detail, natural pigments on archive paper, mounted on diasec, 40 x 100 cm, © Esther Shalev-Gerz

Esther Shalev-Gerz — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Esther Shalev-Gerz, Oil on Stone, 1983, stone of Jerusalem, 250 x 120 x 170 cm, permanent installation, Tel Hai, Israel, © Esther Shalev-Gerz

Esther Shalev-Gerz — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Esther Shalev-Gerz, Potential Trust, 2012-2014, animated sculpture in neon light, 95 x 150 x10 cm, © Esther Shalev-Gerz

Esther Shalev-Gerz — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Esther Shalev-Gerz, Sharing a World, 2016, numerical 3D construction, natural pigments on archive paper, 90 x 120 cm, © Esther Shalev-Gerz

Esther Shalev-Gerz — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Esther Shalev-Gerz, The Gold Room, 2016, detail of the installation, natural pigments on archive paper, 100 x 100 cm, © Esther Shalev-Gerz

Esther Shalev-Gerz — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Esther Shalev-Gerz, The Shadow, 2015-2017, permanent installation, cement cobbles, 10 000 x 2 200 cm, © Esther Shalev-Gerz

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