The artist Mirit Cohen Caspi has been dealing from the early 1980s with the human likeness ranging from the spatially perceptive to the abstract. Her works embody a form of documentation of an investigative internal voyage from which a far–reaching system of signs and insights are retrievable.
In this exhibition the artist focuses on the human likeness undergoing mythical transformations of body and garment, interior and exterior that dismantle the primal likeness and create likenesses, made of cloth, comprising photographic print, hair, and threads. Unlike in her previous works from the late 1980s and early 1990s, where melancholic-intellectual displays predominated the artist now devotes herself in the present works to organic material with regard to its constituents (hair, photographs of leather) as well as to its structural form – rounded, plump, overflowing shapes reminiscent of, or representing, body parts. Mirit Cohen Caspi creates hybrid representations of the human image – a photograph of parted hair on the top of a human head is embedded in the sculptural element that metamorphoses into a kind of Gorgon-head with multiple arms. Wide cloth trousers with (pubic) hair sprouting from the cloth, a dress with nipples, all of which illustrate the desire to combine and unite the garment with the body itself.
A similar effect is obtained by a computer printout of a leatherlike texture embedded in the inner lining of a leather coat (a work that was presented by the artist in her 2003 solo exhibition in the Ein Harod Museum of Art), or by attaching human limbs, such as hands or feet, to articles of clothing. Impressing digital imagery into a body that is represented by a garment intensifies the tension, engendered in the viewer, between the beautiful and the repulsive, between the whole and its dismemberment, and thereby creates Mirit Cohen Caspi’s artistic-mythical world. The work created by means of soft material, with layers of cloth and patchwork sewing are reminiscent of “female education through practical work.” One immediately rejects such a description of the craftsmanship involved here because of the threatening, tormented and morbid appearance of its individual components. The same applies to the purposely perforated cloth that, on the one hand, is reminiscent of lace netting or of weaving and, on the other hand, produces a violent effect of wounding and of cutting; the pieces of cloth tell a tale of betrayal, by the garment, of the wholeness of the body, all of which is portrayed as the wear and tear of life’s tribulations.
These elements of Mirit’s work unite her, most flatteringly, with the well-known Berlin-born artist Eve Hesse (1936-1959) who similarly plaited, interwove and hung on her sculpted elements the weighty painful experiences of her life. The purposeful extensions of pieces of flimsy cloth, or the light transparent-as-wax sculpting of also elongated figures enhance the space with a ghostly aura that emerges from the subconscious in which female and male components lie interwoven. In addition, the sharpness of sensual likenesses such as a red cherry between the thick lips of a bearded man’s face render a faithful representation of the artist’s purpose. Skillfully combining elements of life in her “alchemist’s vessel ” she then extracts from it archetypal forms belonging to a legendary primordial world in which, according to the best-known universal mythological narrative, both animal and human spirits exist side by side with no separation between them.
According to C.G.Jung myth is the expression of the collective subconscious that evokes ancient archetypes, whereas Rudolf Bultmann maintains that myth is the rendition of an incident or occurrence in which unnatural powers or persons are at play. In either case, these powers have also affected Mirit’s artistic work by exerting their influence on her consciousness and on her creative powers, thereby somewhat rocking her inherent complacency.
Naturally one can, without much difficulty, identify in this respect with the prominence accorded by the artist to the feminine dimension and to the concept of the “wild woman” (Women Who Run With the Wolves, Myths and Stories, published in Hebrew by Modan Publishers) introduced by the leading Jungian psychoanalyst and poet Clarissa Pinkola Estés.
Estés reveals that “the wild nature of the she-wolf” is what lies behind the ability of the female to unite from the depths of her soul with the powers of survival. By means of her mystic song “La Luva”, the old she-wolf, brings dead bones to life and these become a running she-wolf that metamorphoses in its turn into a woman… A scene of bristling claws extending into space, “hanging” forms, a plait that is also a hangman’s rope, predator and prey, Little Red Riding Hood or The Hooded Terror. All these resound in the depths of creation and stem from our consciousness – creating a dramatic magical experience.