This monograph gives a comprehensive overview of the variety and scope of the research carried out by Esther Shalev-Gerz over the past 20 years in her films, video-installations, photographs, and site-specific works (among them numerous projects for memorials and community-based schemes). The book aims to highlight the specific ways in which the artist deals with issues of knowledge, memory, history, and testimony through the space of the installation. As Shalev-Gerz states, "My terrain of investigation is the construction of memory. My aim is to challenge and disturb normalized expectations of memoires, and of historiography, by disrupting the various forms of official histories, including anthropology, ethnology, and museology."
Essays by Nora Alter (Chair of Film and Media Arts at Temple University), Georges Didi-Huberman (philosopher and art historian, Professor at the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris), James E. Young (Professor of English and Judaic Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst), and Annika Wik (Stockholm University, Department of Cinema Studies) will offer new insight into the artist's work.
Born 1948 in Vilnius, Lithuania, Esther Shalev-Gerz grew up in Israel, and now lives in Paris. For more than 20 years she has been developing work centered on questions associated with the construction of memory, whether personal or collective. Her reinterpretation of history is firmly anchored in the present of her protagonists : The majority of her works are created in dialogue with people – be they the inhabitants of a specific place, or the witnesses of a particular event. Thus the past is always interpreted through the present of those who remember it, or work with its relics. Through different stories, in the gap between listening and telling, and by means of her installations, Esther Shalev-Gerz creates new spaces to tackle the questions of recollection, memory, bearing witness, and our relationship to history.