A Journey  From the Queen of Hearts to the Broken Heart Queen

The Queen of Hearts was Adva Drori’s final project at the School of Visual Theater (2000). Adva the Queen borrows the cruel character of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. She fries Barbie dolls and the stench rises to high heaven.

 

On the top of a high tower, Adva/Rapunzel[i] is seated on a revolving mirror-stage. In the form of a golden-haired witch/fairy she offers her audience slices of Sabbath Halla on which the words “Sleep, valley” are scorched. The audience, that has climbed all the winding steps in the tower, surrounded with strange rabbits and colored hard-boiled eggs, spreads the slices with butter and eats[ii]…

 

Adva, a kind princess, colorfully dressed, her hair pleated in two long thin braids, sits in her padded home, where the walls and floor are covered with colorful carpets and filled with strange objects – conglomerates – soft toys and children’s clothes. Everything around her is sewn, embroidered, knit or felted. She invites the audience to come, sit at her side on the carpet, embroider and sew something personal on small cushions – help her fill the over-filled content even more. Then heart-to-heart talks take place, too[iii].

 

IN the center of the filled, colorful space, on and inside a large scary felt carpet, reminiscent of a skinned, large primal animal, lies a woman/girlchild wearing a white dress. Her lips and hands are stained and bleeding[iv].

On old hand-embroidered tablecloths, poems are machine-embroidered, in red thread. These are love and reconciliation poems that Drori has written, hanging as part of the cave-shaped installation in her last exhibition[v], named “The Queen Came to the King”, borrowed from a poem by Nurit Zarchi in which a broken-hearted queen in love sing to her beloved, unloving  king[vi].

 

This is another part of the journey that began with the Queen of Hearts, taking revenge of the Barbie dolls – symbol of convention and perfection – on behalf of one injured girlchild who feels rejected and unworthy. All that has been accumulated, connected, sewn together and embroidered is about her childhood. This is a quest of self, taking place over years, in which the girl, at the core of the mature Adva, allows herself to escape into a world of fantasy and legend, in the belief that as in all fairy tales, everything will come to a happy ending.

 

But at the edge of the grass,

 

At the end of the broken horizon sits a she-spider

Her name is childhood.

Sitting at the edge of the grass scheming at you thread by thread.

Dressed you’re not dressed. Undressed not undressed.

Riding on you and your feet drag on the ground,

Your eyes are open and you fall asleep.

 

Alone she weaves at us,

In the morning up to our knees, a small mound of silver garments

At noon, up to the bread knife

 

In the evening, look, up to here

Palaces of mold, hole by hole,

And up to the stars.

 

(Nurit Zarchi, Hypnodrome Hotel 1998 [Heb.], p. 23)

 

It is a difficult task – escaping childhood and erasing the constitutive narrative which, as the poet put it, is caught wound up in its spider web, tirelessly bothersome.

 

A girl child on a kibbutz. A different child in a group of children living together.

A parents’ home that does not provide enough protection from the preying, trampling children’s group that is tight and closed most of the day. Nights in the common dormitories, far from the direct protection of one’s parents. A sense of separation, loneliness, a fierce need of love, fear of rejection. There’s a grandmother, too – hearty, devoting special attention. Grandmother sews Adva special dresses, unusual and distinct among the collective, uniform-looking garments of the kibbutz children. “In these dresses I felt very safe” says Adva, and I add – probably special and loved, too.

 

“When I write I think about my own childhood. Everything happens in childhood, all the keys are there. The question is what form we give it”, says poet and writer Nurit Zarchi about herself, having also grown up on a kibbutz, and visualizing childhood as a she-spider that traps her in its web.

Captured in the web of childhood Adva Drori continues her quest of fantasy. Transferring personal inner-world materials through the prism of legend and imagination, she tries to free herself with her art work from a heavy burden she bears.

 

The choice and escape to the world of fantasy and legend is an organic connection to the child’s world, a world of an innocent mind that believes in the ability of imagination to mend and heal breaches. With the help of the imagination, out of harsh and at times inconceivable reality, an alternative world grows, with its own logic and justice.

 

This is the place where Adva Drori acts. It is a role play in which she is sometimes a little girl, at others a wicked witch, a generous fairy, a primped-up princess or a loving and disappointed queen. Plays of the imagination enable her a huge space of action in which she works tirelessly. She cuts and sews and embroiders and felts, pastes and crushes, writes, performs, speaks. Alone in the studio and in public in the gallery. Hiding and exposing, building and destroying, butting and mending. An entire ritual whose final aim is inner healing, feeling worthy of herself and the world.

 

“To Be Worthy – Past, Present and Future” is the last in a series of installations relating to her childhood. In Beeri, Drori returns to her point of departure, in a way – to the kibbutz. In this case, Beeri serves as a mirror image of the place where she grew up, where her inner burn-wounds were etched from which she attempts to heal. The closing of a circle.

 

Is it the end of the journey? Has the mind mended? Have Drori’s heroines found rest, have all the breaches been healed? Have childhood’s restless web ceased to entrap the chambers of the heart?

***

Ada Naamani

 

 

 

[i] Rapunzel, heroine of the same-titled legend, is held prisoner in a high tower. The Brothers Grimm – The Collected Works, Translated into Hebrew by Shimon Levy, Sifriyat Hapoalim, 2009, p. 44

 

 

[ii] Numi Emek – Installation-performance in the water tower, Commemoration Gallery at Kiryat Tivon, 2003

 

[iii] The Silent Kingdom in Adva Drori’s Embroidering Biography, installation-performance at Hakibbutz Gallery, Tel Aviv, 2011

 

[iv]  Girl Color Red!”  Installation (and performance at the opening), Municipal Gallery of Rishon LeZion, 2012

 

[v] "The Queen Came to the King", installation, Zadik gallery, Jaffa 2015.

 

[vi]  The poems are cited from The Queen Came to the King by Nurit Zarchi, published by Massad, 1992

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