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This issue is dedicated to my beloved mother, Aviva Zohar (1935–2020), who passed away on November 26th 2020, during the final preparations of this issue. Born in and having lived her entire life in Tel Aviv, my mother was the epitome of a Sabra, who believed in Israel in times of turmoil and success, of angst and happiness.
A short chapter in Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography (1980) could not better express how I feel today. I quote Barthes’ chapter here in its entirety, in honor of my mother’s memory.
Now, one November evening, shortly after my mother’s death, I was going through some photographs. I had no hope of “finding” her, I expected nothing from these “photographs of a being before which one recalls less of that being than by merely thinking of him or her” (Proust). I had acknowledged that fatality, one of the most agonizing features of mourning, which decreed that however often I might consult such images, I could never recall her features (summon them up as a totality). No, what I wanted—as Valery wanted, after his mother’s death—was “to write a little compilation about her, just for myself” (perhaps I shall write it one day, so that, printed, her memory will last at least the time of my own notoriety). Further, I could not even say about these photographs, if we except the one I had already published (which shows my mother as a young woman on a beach of Les Landes, and, in which I “recognized” her gait, her health, her glow—but not her face, which is too far away), I could not even say that I loved them: I was not sitting down to contemplate them, I was not engulfing myself in them. I was sorting them, but none seemed to me really “right”: neither as a photographic performance nor as a living resurrection of the beloved face. If I were ever to show them to friends I could doubt that these photographs would speak.
Roland Barthes, chapter 25 in Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill & Wang, 1981), 63–64.
—Recalling her many enigmatic smiles
Ayelet Zohar, Tel Aviv, December 2020 [End Page ii]