Goddes Lacteria in the war

Exhibition Lactism

8. 12. 2023

Installation of the exhibition Lactism at the Art Cube Gallery, Artists’ Studios, Talpiot, Jerusalem, ceased abruptly following the events of October 7, 2023, the black day of the beginning of the war, which is still continuing. Hanging the exhibition took place over several weeks of work since the artists returned to Prague.
The war that began on Israel’s southern border on October 7th expanded to the northern border and into Gaza. Its impacts are resonating throughout the world, with expressions of violence, hatred, racism, and antisemitism shaking the foundations of humanity and arising again across the globe. Human society has become polarized: it seems that the world over, men and women have forgotten to behave humanely to others. Every day we see that the complicated, multilayered reality of life at the very center of the conflict has been flattened into hollow slogans erasing the horrors and blinding people to events.
The atrocities Hamas committed on civilians – slaughter, rape, injuries to women, children, and elderly, hundreds of hostages abducted with no word of their fate – took place as we are witnessing the pain and distress of civilians in Israel and in Gaza, with hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons from Israel’s north and south lacking homes and stability. Each day there are rocket barrages, displaced Gazans, suffering and death of helpless citizens, children, and entire families buried under the destruction caused by war. Worldwide Leftist organizations, organizations promoting women’s and LGBTQ rights, feminist art organizations, and scholars whom we thought of as our partners in the struggle to promote human rights and social justice have revealed themselves to be blind, ignoring or choosing to be silent in the face of massacre, rape, and terrorism when perpetrated against Jews.

On the surface, it seems that when facing such a painful, hellish situation it is difficult to imagine being able to take time for cultural activities and making art. On the other hand, we remember and are familiar with the power of art and creativity to connect people with others, with themselves, that which opens up the imagination and brings hope. Our first actions were to hold art workshops outside of the Studios to work with the many displaced families and children temporarily housed in Jerusalem. We slowly realized that we have a safe place to offer for an internal encounter, an encounter with others, and with art. We understood how the current exhibition is relevant to the present situation, touching our present lives, and can offer hope for life after the war.
We were determined to install the exhibition despite the difficulty of doing so without the physical presence of the two artists. Tamara Moyzes and Shlomi Yaffe’s utopian ideas embody a proposal for balm and healing social and ecological injustices. We seem to be in need of this now more than ever. We can either see their ideas as naïve dreams to be ignored or, when we are wise enough to choose a different way – to choose life – these ideas are feasible.

In this 21st century, the world is still being led by men, and to our deep regret, we have seen in the most recent events the cruel results of male violence against women, young children, and adults. The new monotheistic religion invented by Moyzes and Yaffe proposes that women be leaders based on a network of connections among women and among people. This new religion has the capability of bringing about social and ecological justice to repair what humans have done to the world. Women, as the ones who bring life to the world, can lead society in a different way, preferring life to other ideas. Women are able to perceive complexity and to be more comprehensive instead of polarizing and factionalizing society.
The idea of womanpower in the exhibition arose from Yaffe’s family history. During the 1920s in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, his Jewish great-grandmother chose life and nursed her Arab neighbor’s infant daughter who was in distress after her husband was killed in battles before the Arab Revolt. While the men fought each other based on ethnic divisions, the women chose life and created a social fabric based on the feminine natural force for care and concern. We can only imagine what would happen if the majority of world leaders were women.

The exhibition Lactism, like many of Tamara Moyzes’s works, stems from the traumas of the Holocaust accompanying her life. In her art and activism, Moyzes’s actions are motivated by her concern to ensure that the horrors her family underwent will not happen to any other person. The Artivist Lab Gallery which she founded in Prague is a living example of her commitment, a place where not only can minorities and refugees have their voices heard, but also assists the mobility and rescue of artists in distress from conflict and war zones through its artist residency program. It has already provided refuge for five artists from Ukraine (four women and one man).
It seems a difficult request that we should remain humane while the world around us is especially vicious, but we are obligated to preserve our humanity, empathy, respect, and love towards every human being. Life matters, all living things matter, and this is the time to fight for our humanity, struggle for the rights of women, battle for the right of every human being to live, ensure peace and security for one’s loved ones, and enable a better future for all children.
Our choice of life is what guides us to dedicate this exhibition to the human encounter between all people living in Jerusalem – Jews, Muslims, Christians, foreigners, and native-born, working to strengthen the ties between us so that we can meet on this sacred ground as human beings, and honor everyone’s life.

By Lee He Shulov​
English translation: J. Appleton

Czech Centres
Interview: Artist Tamara Moyzes talks about her exhibition “Lactism” at the Manofim festival in Jerusalem

Flash Art
Preface by the curator Lee He Shulov to the exhibition Lactism

Art Cube Artists’ Studios Jerusalem
The new monotheistic religion worshiping the goddess Lacteria

Manofim, Contemporary Art Festival 2024
LACTISM: The new monotheistic religion worshiping the goddess Lacteria