Rachel Finkelstein

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April 24, 2013 by thejourneyual

Rachel Finkelstein
Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design
סבתא גילה Savta(Grandmother in Hebrew) Gila, 1979
Herstory/Four Generations Female X-Chromosomal Inheritance Lineage, 2012


Bio: Rachel Finkelstein is a multidisciplinary feminist artist. She is a co-founder of Circles, the first women’s film distribution group in the UK.  Her work has been widely shown in Europe and Israel in such venues as the London Film Makers Co-Op, The Midland Group, ICA Cinematheque, A Women’s Art Space, Half Moon Photography and Museum of Modern Art Oxford. Recently she has been part of the organizing team producing Suzanne Lacy’s Three Weeks in January (2012), as part of PST performance and Public Art Festival. She was also part of the performing team recreating the Myth of Rape & Lieberstod. Currently a member of The People’s Microphony Camerata (PMC) which is an experimental choir base in Los Angeles and WCA Southern California. Rachel Finkelstein received a BA from St. Martin’s College of Art and a MA from the Royal College of Art.

Statement: I chose to go to St. Martin’s College of Art as I was looking for a liberal environment where I could grow as a person as well as an artist. The image of my Grandmother was only a negative when I got hold of it and it is still the only image that I have of her. The project was part of a personal ritual where I would try to put myself in her place, imagining what would it feel like to be branded by having the star of David sewn on each garment you own. The current 2012 piece is an attempt to connect four generations by our Herstory and our genetic heritage. My mother was born to an Orthodox family as one of six daughters. With the rise of Anti-Semitic tendencies in Europe, at the age of 22 she left Poland and moved to Palestine without her parents’ approval.  My mother kept the last postcard she received from her mother in her jewelry box.  It was written in German and she used to occasionally read it…”Dear daughter” it said “this is the only time I am happy you didn’t listen to me…”My grandmother, as far as I know, was mass murdered in a communal grave in Chrzanow Poland not long after that.

I might not have been born if my mother was not a Zionist: rebellious and adventurous. Two years after the formation of Israel in the 50’s, my mother had me and I was raised in a secular-traditional home. The journey should’ve stopped there in accordance to the belief of most Diaspora Jews as I returned to Zion. Yet, I, like many other Israelis, left Israel in 1973 with a one-way ticket to Europe.  My daughter was born in California in 1991.

Looking at the four of us, one might notice that:

  • We were born in three different continents: Europe, Asia, and America
  • Three of us don’t share the same native tongue
  • Two of us never had the opportunity to meet
  • But, despite all that an X Chromosomal Lineage and a sense of belonging connects us all.

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