Israeli artist Gil Yefman doesn’t hesitate to shock.
His most recent show, “Bay Mir Bistu Sheyn (To Me You Are Beautiful),” focused on the Holocaust, and on the juxtaposition of everyday objects and beautiful scenery with the horrors of violence—particularly sexual violence. A crocheted “Sex Slave Doll,” whose gaze rests on a monitor playing scenes of the serene lake at the Ravensbrück concentration camp, invites visitors to interact, and therefore participate, in her oppression and exploitation. Another work, “Time Table,” presents prominent Nazi women in a lurid pin-up-style calendar, including Eva Braun with tattoos of logos of companies that profited during the Holocaust.
Rather than depicting death directly, Yefman uses domestic materials like wool yarn to look at “the hardship of everyday life.” He has worked with the Remember the Women Institute, dedicated to investigating sexual violence against women during the Holocaust.
Yefman’s largest sculpture, “Tumtum,” literally knits together various representations of human genitalia, divorced from the rest of the body. (“Tumtum” is a rabbinic term for people of indeterminate sex.) As visitors confront it, and the other works in the show, they recognize the familiar alongside with the grotesque—a disturbing, thought-provoking combination.
Check out this video from Yefman’s Tokyo show: