“Garments of Reconciliation”

Andi Arnovitz
November 24, 2011
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“Garments of Reconciliation” (2009)

A series meant to provoke dialogue and foster co-existence.

Materials: black Egyptian cotton, digital scans on linen, cotton embroidery thread.

My concept was to take quintessential, symbolic garments of two people at conflict and combine them. I used the colorful embroidered insets that Palestinian women wear on their long black dresses and tzitzit that traditional religious Jewish men wear. So from the very beginning I was combining elements of male/female/Jew/Arab.

I went to the old Arab souk in Jerusalem and borrowed thirty different embroideries from my friend Mazen, a Palestinian. These embroideries are from different tribes and different Palestinian villages. Because they were old and precious, I did not want to cut them up, so I took them to Western Jerusalem to a modern Jewish print shop where they were scanned and digitally printed onto linen. I then returned the original embroideries and took them to Ibrahim, another Palestinian who owns a fabric store in the Old Arab Souk. I bought black cotton made in Egypt and he took the cotton and scanned embroideries to a sewing factory in Ramallah where Palestinians sewed them. When these were finished I gave them to a young, Jewish, Israeli man who tied the tzitzit for me. Throughout the entire process the artwork passed from the hands of Jews to Arabs, to Arabs and then Jews and so on.

I made them in the size that a small child would wear, because peace education begins at a young age. They are meant to symbolize hope and reconciliation.

My birthday is October 24, United Nations Day. As a child, I was given a book called “This is The United Nations,” which highlighted its international work. I loved the pictures of all the different flags, and people and the programs around the world. I was very proud of the fact that my birthday was shared by this amazing institution dedicated to world peace.

Today I feel very differently. Being an Israeli citizen, I find that I view most rulings and proclamations of the United Nations as absurd jokes; an international body hijacked by a group of nations who show favoritism or blindness depending on the issue or country.

I would like to think that these pieces were created out of  the same desire which was similar to the original motivating forces behind the United Nations.

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Andi Arnovitz was born in 1959 in Kansas City, USA, and now lives and works in Jerusalem, Israel. She uses etching, digital information and various printmaking processes, as well as fabric and thread to create large-scale dimensional paper garments. These pieces explore various tensions that exist within religion, gender and politics. She also makes artists books and assemblages. Andi has participated in many international printmaking competitions. She has exhibited her work in England, The United States, Israel, Spain, Poland, Finland, France, Lithuania, Canada, and Bulgaria. She has had many one-woman shows and participated in multiple group shows. Her work is in many private collections in both the United States and in Europe, as well as major universities and institutions. She is represented in Jerusalem by several galleries.

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