My exploration of works by the Israel-based artist Dina Shenhav, such as City (2000), Game Over (2001), Dog (2005), End of the Forest (2008), Crystal (2008), and Rest (2008), aspires to develop a critical reading of visual artwork associated with literary texts. This essay suggests a reading of Dina Shenhav’s art as an “autobiographical narrative in pictorial terms” that highlights the tensions derived from the interplay between different modes of representation—word and image, poetic and visual—in the past and the present, in Europe and in the Middle East, in German and in Hebrew. Interacting and corresponding with aesthetic theories by Walter Benjamin, as well as with concepts in the fields of art (Dürer, Kiefer) and poetics (Sebald, Yehoshua, Yeshurun), I intend to show how Shenhav shapes a visual poetics of catastrophe in her coming to terms with a private and collective traumatic past that is inseparable from bearing witness to an ongoing political present.
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- Dina Shenhav
- Visual poetics
- W. G. Sebald
- Walter Benjamin