Naama Roth combines the young Zionist ethos of the 1930s, gender relations and digital media to expand the definition of commemoration. She focuses her research on the "Work and Defense Monument" sculpted by artist Batia Lichansky in 1937. The memorial was erected to commemorate the Haganah commander Ephraim Chizik who was killed while defending Kibbutz Hulda in the 1930s. The sculpture depicts three portraits intended to convey the heroism of the Zionist ethos. Roth chose to focus on the portrait of Sarah Chizik, the monument's female figure: Sarah Chizik was Ephraim's sister and had been killed a decade earlier in the battle of Tel Hai. Her portrait was included in the memorial not because she was a heroic warrior but simply because of the location and circumstances of her death – in Tel Hai. The sculptor, under the instruction of Ha-Yishuv, chose to draw a connection between the battle of Tel Hai and the battle of Hulda; both of which supplied the blossoming national myth with quintessential heroic figures: Joseph Trumpeldor in Tel Hai and Ephraim Chizik in Hulda. Sarah Chizik's death served as the connective link between the two locations and as such, it is also her personal contribution to the national heroic ethos. Roth isolates Sarah Chizik's portrait, frames it and covers it with a sheet of vertically textured glass. The effect is reminiscent of today's digital aesthetics: Chizik's portrait emerges through a filter of visual disruptions and flickering. If her image has hence been immortalized, it also calls into question the value of commemoration in a digital age dominated by fake news, distortion and ephemerality.
Text by Nohar Ben-Asher