THE EMPTY CHAIRS, a multi-image installation by Linda Soberman, provokes and confronts our complacency about remembrance and the commonality of loss. She uses the narrative of presence and absence to illustrate the transformative power of art as a way of connecting with the past.
The central focus of the exhibition is an installation of over 100 steel chairs cascading from the ceiling, some with faces of those that perished in the Holocaust,
and others who have died in genocides all over the world. Linda Soberman takes ordinary household items, such as a chair, and transforms them into memory objects. The chairs are imbued with a sense of history, a sense of tradition, and the idea of mortality.
Surrounding the sculpture is a “Circle of Memory” with 10 chairs to say kaddish, a Jewish prayer for dead. Visitors are invited to sit in the circle, and contemplate their individual and collective loss, as well as write the name of a loved one on the scroll as you exit the exhibit.
Around the room are empty picture frames which call to mid the portraits of individual and family portraits who are no longer with us. In addition, the gilded frames represent the art that was confiscated from Jewish families by the Nazis during WWll, literally torn from the frames, which, in some cases, are finally being returned to the families of the rightful owners.
The panels, all dyed shades of skin colors, hang loosely behind the EMPTY CHAIRS, serving as a metaphor for the body, which is also absent, except for the printed images of truncated legs and feet. The faces behind the screens are barely visible, reminding us how images and memories fade in and fade out, and how photographs keep the individual alive in our minds.
Keywords:Holocaust, art, installation art