Notes on the sculptures of sara katz

Haim Maor

Small People, the name of Sara Katz’s exhibit of sculptures, is a name which conceals
and hides more than it exposes and reveals. The name (Small People), simply stated,
indicates and attests to the miniature size of the characters appearing in Sara Katz’s
sculptures and in addition to children, that is, small people, who are life sized
sculptures. . .
However, another sense of the words, small people, is the Yiddish term “Kleiner
Menchalach”, which means petty, provincial and egocentric people, busy with
unimportant trivialities.
One discovers this connection early on upon viewing the rows of characters (made of
jute, wire, burnt material, and the casting of dyed plaster), standing or sitting on very
small podiums, illuminated by strong, dramatic lighting, as if frozen actors, part of the
Human Comedy, similar to those of Shakespeare, Hogarth, Swift, Balzac, or Hanoch
Humorous, however, ludicrous and pathetic portrayals are only the means, used by
Sara Katz, to tempt the observer into accompanying her into the dark and deep abyss
of the two displays on exhibit. Sensitive and discerning observation is required of the
observer, in order to interweave the many ties between the different images; to
discover that these are not only small people, living their puny, unglamorous lives.
Sara Katz’s miniature theater is not live, active, vital theater, in the ordinary sense of
the word. On the contrary, this is Shadow Theater that has become static. Its actors,
the spirits of the dead, who emerge from their graves (those same small wooden
platforms which are supposedly used as sculpture bases) repeatedly perform, time and
again, the same repertoire, like mechanic dolls, programmed for an infinite loop;
Sisyphean. The spirits of the dead have been sentenced to relive the karma, the fate
they built for themselves during the time they were human. Their subjugation to
desire, passion, fear or hubris becomes their punishment.
This is a world of classes, ups and downs, passions and anxieties, screams and
silences, a huge gap between active, vibrant and alert mental activity and the
disintegrating physical body. In this state, the body seems worn-out, distorted, a
ridiculous and ludicrous mutation, but which also generates compassion and pity. It is
no coincidence that the images resemble streams of sand or smoking candles whose
wax has melted, leaving behind a putrid, liquid stream, like body secretions. The same
throbbing material, like exposed flesh, is reminiscent of ancient figurine casts or the
sculptures of Alberto Giacommetti.
This transposition, distortion and displacement are but a few of the means Sara Katz
uses to create new meanings and to make clear-eyed comments on the land of living.
Memories, which she carries from childhood, made their way to the sculptures as well
as into her short stories, which portray a childhood of a sensitive girl in a family
where the parents were Holocaust survivors, who built their home in Hadera on the
remains of the rubble of what no longer exists.© 2012All rights reserved to Sara Katz.
The transposition and the displacement enable Sara Katz to create painful crossbreedings between the world of the dead and the land of the living.
With the deep feeling of one who has been doomed to deal with a subject that has
been imposed upon him, involuntarily, Sara Katz conjures up characters from a place
no longer existent and fossilizes them as were the unfortunate inhabitants of Pompeii,
buried and fossilized in the lava that covered their city.
Oh, the happy days, mumble the heroes of Samuel Becket s play, Happy Days, with
their heads popping out of the ground, carrying on with their mannerisms, their
bickering, their pettiness. Like them, Sara Katz s dead-life sculptures continue to
adorn themselves, to be condescending and to bask in their glory while they are stuck
in their black, circular bases, or fixed to their tiny dressers.
On a different scale are the three life-size sculptures: one, a child standing, another a
child sitting and a child lying down. The combination reminds one of the Pieta.
Another look reveals that the faces of the three children seem identical. The dead and
the living are one.