First Prize , 22nd National Salon of Visual Arts, Maracay, Venezuela, 1997.
(The sculpture shown on the 3rd image)

On How to Sit and Hear the Trains Go B

As these lines are being written, Lihie Talmor's exhibition is still mounted in Hall 16 of the Sofia Imber Museum of Contemporary Art in Caracas, Venezuela. To those who have not had the opportunity to see this sample of this artist's uncontrollable activity, we can affirm that the experience is not merely visual, but also uproarious. The far end of the hall reverberates with the noise like that of a train passing by on a metal bridge, its worn out iron rails snapping in dry blows. It doesn't take much effort of the imagination to perceive, beneath the bridge, the classic image of an existential film: a woman stifling her cries with clenched fists while the train passes overhead.

This first sonorous work, made of folded and oxidized iron sheets, constitutes the artist's first sculpture with an urban intention. Therein lies its interest, for Talmor, despite the ostentatiousness of her ensamblages, had always operated in a more intimate vein, created by her use of paper (intervened photographs and etchings) enframed in rigid and articulated structures.

These earlier works are singular and immensely rich in divergent readings. By means of a union of photo etching and the metal-mechanic, they call upon a desire to give an inkling of the sublime through a cold frame, screwed together like the parts of a futuristic insect, which definitively converts the work into something absurd. These useless machines, parodies of our incapacity even for nostalgia, present themselves as the debris of an archeological excavation among the ruins, culture, location and meaning of which are simply of no importance to our generations. Culturally, we live as never before in the most sterile here and now.

In her recent work, Talmor continuously seeks out the wounds, fissures and accesses to the subterraneous, in an attempt to discover the cause of the disorder that reigns on the surface. There stems her interest in grates, water and electricity manholes, stree tholes, and other apertures; for her, there is no better archeology than that of our urban existence. We are like ghosts who travel among the ruins of our wretched quotidian experiences in a city abandoned to the lower powers.

More than anything, Talmor's work is essentially pessimistic, but of that pessimism of intelligent beings, who, with a certain humor, despite everything, take the time to leave a testimony of the darkness of their time. They do so not precisely so that future generations will remember (neither them nor this rather inconsequential present), but as if by obligation, that same obligation, of an almost religious order, which controls the invisible strings of our most precious marionette, that of the inner Self.

We are cheered then, that someone goes on folding sheets of iron, so that they'll make a great deal of noise amidst the passing of the silent multitudes.


Axel Stein
Presentation text from the catalog for the exhibition
Euro-American Art Center
Caracas, 1996