• visual arts
  • writing
  • movement

Yael Davids’s practice, situated between installation and performance, develops at the intersection of the private and political spheres. The body is pivotal to her artistic practice, a body she apprehends as a site of reception and activation of convergences and conflicts that have in part shaped her life and subjectivity. Like a documentary vessel, the body records the present and carries the scars of history. The body is a source of knowledge and a dynamic site of rewriting. Yael Davids’ work explores the narrative potential inherent in the act of documenting and it also engages with the act of repetition. With a certain economy of gesture and a constant interest in the notion of performance, her installations endeavour to give shape to the memory of the ephemeral, the fleeting. They intermesh the conflict-ridden political history of a burgeoning nation and her own life story, marked by loss and the experience of mourning, proposing a confrontation between presence and absence.
Her work also focuses on the ambiguous character of objects and places and the way this ambiguity produces meaning.

During her residency at the Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, the artist developed a project that enabled her to engage with the history of Judaism, the utopias it conveys, and its paradoxes and obliterations. One of the ways she approached her research was through participatory workshops. She set up and facilitated a Feldenkrais workshop (link) offering free sessions to local residents of Aubervilliers to work on regaining balance, flexibility and coordination by developing awareness of their own movements. She also organised reading workshops (link) engaging with texts presenting narratives of exile, of spaces and identity, by writers chosen for their particular relationship to Jewish culture and for the way they interrogate the question of belonging. Among the materials explored in these workshops were texts by Hélène Cixous, Édouard Glissant, Georges Perec, and the correspondence of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem.

“Imagine this downward movement of a root — digging, expanding, eliminating that which comes its way. I think of this determined root — turning into plural, branching, cleaving, anchoring, becoming a foundation, shooting a single body. A stem. Settled and refusing to move. I reconsider my idea of the root — to a concept of reduction, violation , insistence and permanence. Migrated. In a constant search for the land that holds this source of myself. How could I imagine that I could become one again? Infused back into the roots? How could I imagine this movement back into the roots as a movement without destruction, without violation?”

Yael Davids, Reading that Writes – a Physical Act, (performance script).


With the support of the program of international residencies of the Ville de Paris/Institut Français aux Récollets and the Mondriaan Fonds.