There’s Always an Apex Predator

Tugboat Gallery, Lincoln, Nebraska’s most hip alternative space presented “There’s Always an Apex Predator” featuring new work by Jay Kreimer and Wendy Weiss, September 2-29, 2016.

“There’s Always an Apex Predator” explores crocodiles, prisoners of war, the holocaust and more though painted wood sculptures, digitally cut vinyl wall installations, prints and a sound score by Jay Kreimer and Adam Zahller. The work in this collaborative exhibition is entirely new and is drawn from experiences in India, personal and world history, and current political events.p1070795-sm

Kreimer’s father was a prisoner of war in World War ll. He was captured at the Battle of the Bulge. Kreimer states his father was “marched and marched, lined up at a pit to be shot, was not shot, and ended at Stalag lXB, Bad Orb, Germany.” Weiss adds this was “the worst German prison camp from which, in 1945, Jewish prisoners and perceived troublemakers were sent to the Berga concentration camp, a slave labor camp that mixed American POWs with Holocaust victims in a work to death frenzy.” Eldon Kreimer spoke little about his time in Stalag lXB, but he did tell a story about dividing a packet of raisins from a Red Cross package between his fellow prisoners. Starving, as they all were, he held back three extra raisins for himself and ate them. Later he felt compelled to confess this transgression to his group. Three raisins.p1070801-sm
Our interest in his experience paralleled what developed from a latent interest for me about the Holocaust and cruelties in Europe during World War ll. As a child, my father had been gripped with the significance Holocaust and the industrialized murder of European Jews. In 2014, unintentionally, we stayed on the site of the Łódź Ghetto in Poland, called the “Litzmannstadt Getto” because during the war the occupiers briefly renamed the city after a German general who invaded the city in WWI.

text-wall-wweiss

Other forms of predation entered our thoughts. Animals and insects in the service of men to torment—dogs and fleas—for example.

p1070805We lived for much of the past few years in Vadodara, Gujarat, a city of two million with the distinction of harboring the largest population of wild crocodiles in a city of that size in the world. They conclude, “so the crocodiles came to this party: Apex Predators.”

p1070768-sm

Thanks to Nebraska Innovation Studio, a makerspace/fab lab, on Nebraska Innovation Campus, where we use terrific equipment and workspace for the development of the vinyl portion and some of the wood working portions of the installation. Check it out! And much gratitude to Peggy and Nolan and the super helpers at Tugboat.

Litzmannstadt Getto, 1940-1944, 2015

I have returned to the city of Lodz, Poland again and again. It is home to an extraordinary group of weavers and textile artists whose innovation and creativity inspire me. Its history haunts me.

I first visited Poland in 1992 and have had the privilege to return a number of times over the years. In the late 1990s I worked with Polish and American colleagues to develop an exhibition of contemporary Polish fiber art that toured the USA, called Different Voices: New Art from Poland. When I returned to Lodz after a hiatus of almost twenty years, the monuments and memorials to the victims of World War II struck me.

Litz-Final052-sm
Litzmannstadt Getto, 1940-1944. 2015. Photo by Jay Kreimer

When I revisited Poland in 2014 to teach a workshop on ikat we stayed in the Baluty neighborhood of Lodz. This neighborhood was clearly demarcated in present day Lodz as the site of the Litzmannstadt Getto of 1940-1944, stenciled on curbs around the perimeter and marked with a granite marker. The Lodz Ghetto was the second largest Jewish ghetto in Poland. The Nazis changed the name of the city to Litzmannstadt in November 1939 after a German general who invaded the city in World War I.

This brief immersion in the Lodz Ghetto has propelled me to return to my research about World War II, this time examining the European causes and consequences. The ikat technique, my interest in text and image, and the desire to grapple with history in visual terms have come together.

Weiss-fragment505-sm
detail view of Litzmannstadt Getto, 1940-1944

The weaving, Litzmannstadt Getto, 1940-1944, 2015 is the first in this group of works, a major undertaking in which I have been able to combine text and pattern using an innovation of the Indian method of preparing the threads for dyeing.

I explore the world through woven fabric, constructed thread by thread, infused with color from plant and mineral sources. Inherently a slow process, I wind lengths of thread to become warp yarns, secure them around a frame to bind the desired pattern, immerse them in mordant and dye solutions so they can achieve a specific color, remove the binding to free the threads so finally I can transfer them to the loom to weave a fabric, inserting the weft yarn, row by row.

 

Litzmannstadt-Getto-opening-day
Opening day of the 15th Triennial of Textiles

The Litmannstadt Getto weaving is currently on view in the 15th International Triennial of Tapestry, at the Central Museum of Textiles in Lodz, Poland as part of the American contingent. Judith Content, Susan Iverson, Jill Nordfors Clark, Kathy Weaver

To learn more about the history of the Lodz Ghetto you can find a number of on-line sites, including:

http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/ghettos/Lodz/lodzghetto.html

http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Poland/LodzGhetto.html http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/lodz.html