Glen Cove, New York
In “The Holocaust Through the Eyes of a Survivor’s Daughter” (on view through June 1, 2021), Tmima presents 30 emotionally shattering, mixed-media sculptures in which small, distorted figures populate ruined, apocalyptic landscapes. Skeletal survivors are fleshed out by dark, sculpted netting, represented by charred wood or powdery coal. Their faces are either left blank or built from rusting metal latches and sockets, with apertures for eyes, nostrils, and mouths. From the voids bellow unheard howls. Charred newspapers turn into wallpaper. The notorious Arbeit Macht Frei slogan materializes from twisted, rusting signage. Segments of battered crates and other found objects become shelters; collected sticks become dwarf trees. In front of desolate images of encampment interiors and exteriors, human figures twist in shapes of pain, despair, and blank-eyed endurance.
In Sole Survivor, a toddler’s photographed head emerges from within a burned-out shell. A hideously twisted figure, seemingly mummified in dark, crumbly netting, shares the space. Is it a parent? Is it alive? There are no clues. Last Witness includes no recognizable figures at all, just decrepit, crumbling objects—a slab, an empty vessel, and rusting chains. Perhaps the last witness is gone.
The figures in Letter to the Editor huddle against walls covered in newspaper scraps. A visible column headline, “Letter to the Editor,” offers a grim irony—as if writing a letter to the editor would make any sense in this end-of-days despair. Visitors who look carefully at the exhibition will see pieces of preserved letters written to the artist by family members, attesting to her personal involvement with the themes she portrays.
Tmima was born in Vilnius, Lithuania, in the wake of the Holocaust to parents who were both survivors. She grew up in Israel and now resides on Long Island, in New York.