Death Is Muse for Israeli Artist Pesi Girsch

Daughter of Holocaust Survivors Sees Beauty in Morbidity

Kobi Kalmanovitz

By Dalia Karpel

Published April 03, 2014.
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“During the second year in the photography course with Deganit Barsat I had a revelation. I realized that reality changes during the click, but at that moment I realized that reality as it is doesn’t interest me.”

Is that why you stage it?

“I stage it out of difficult things that I experienced, and was inspired by them − disasters that were caused by human beings, such as the Holocaust and World War II, or the murder of the child Nava Elimelech, whose head was found in the sea. Disasters are a kind of trigger for thought and work. I’m sensitive to injustice. Look, I’m a person who is outwardly very happy and everyone enjoys me, but I don’t enjoy myself and I’m stuck all the time in a kind of suffering. I’ve experienced many difficult things.”

Her model at the start of her work as a photographer was her daughter. “Kaipo was 7 years old when I photographed her inside the house and in the garden. From the age of 4 she danced and announced that she wanted to study ballet. Kaipo knew from an early age what she wanted and she liked being photographed.”

Girsch herself is considered an outstanding belly dancer, but she gave up dance at the age of 45 when she contracted kidney cancer, the same disease from which her father had suffered. She underwent surgery and recovered, but stopped performing. Since then she has been teaching in the belly dancing school of her sister, Tania Girsch.

In Girsch’s photography exhibition at the Tel Hai museum she will display works created from 1987 to 2014. Curator Naama Haikin wrote “Terror Games” − the main article in the lovely catalogue designed by Magen Halutz, which also includes an article by Ruth Golan, a clinical psychologist and Lacanian pyschoanalyst “Pesi Girsch’s cosmic-cosmetic theater of terror,” as well as a text by photographer Simcha Shirman, “The sound of delicate glass.”

Golan wrote beautifully about Girsch, explaining that “she constantly felt that she was exceptional in her surroundings, with a special sensitivity to injustice. And despite all that, I dare to write, in the wake of Frost, that happiness is the dominant characteristic in Girsch’s work as a whole, as in her creative process.”

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