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In this series of works, old books make up the bulk of the physical raw material of Sara Konforty's art. Indeed, the book, which is viewed by man as a repository of information, is here transformed into a repository alone - to the point where Konforty removes all the pages and leaves only the machine - made binding as a reference point for the viewer. In other instances, the artist uses the pages of a book as raw material for sculpture, thus nullifying the significance of the page as a place and turning it into the raw material of another work of art unrelated to the original work contained on the page.

The written word sometimes requires long passages in order to completely describe complex forms. Here, the forms, which are linked at times to a certain reality and at other times are devoid of any context, present themselves to the viewer without need of words.

Sara Konforty is actually engaged in two activities simultaneously. One is the destruction of books - ostensibly an anti-cultural, anti-humanist act; the second is an act of construction, of creation-on the surface of things, a cultural and humanist act. How does one reconcile the paradox between the need to destroy one object and the need to construct another? The truth is that no paradox exists: the book simply undergoes a process of transformation from one state of knowledge - gathering to onother. Consequently, this is not destruction in the familiar sense of "book-burning" with all its baggage of cultural brutalism. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that Konforty - despite her use of books as raw material for her work - does not dare to "harm" any Hebrew books; instead, she focuses on books written in foreign languages.

Are Hebrew books really more sacred? Is the fear that we all harbor, of destroying our private and national history, make everything easier when the books are foreign and, thereby, somewhat removed?

Bodily substances such as hairs, which represent a form of material that is personal and constantly changing - a tipe of ever-present clock ticking away - are attached to the books, transforming them into personal, private, "diary-like" works of the artist, who shares them with the viewer in intimate confrontation.

In a book, when viewed as a place, the major focus is the text-the words that come together on paper and become the page's topography. In an interesting and not unoriginal fashion, Konforty causes the words to lose their contextual and topographical value and become a meaningless part of the totality that we call a book.

Lately, Konforty is producing intimate works. She has no desire for large-scale works, and is content to focus her energies and abilities on small, clear formats that offer no option for breaking out of certain preordained constraints. Everything is executed within, and from the inside out; there is no outside, no space - nothing but the sole

perspective of the artist or the viewer on the spaces preserved within the confines of
the work.

This context immediately evokes the image of a puzzle - a game of cut-up pictures where the player holds only the first piece, which is supposed to serve as the clue to the entire picture. The book, which always lies open in Konforty's work, takes us into the hidden worlds of the artist - and likewise into our own.

The clue, which is usually provided as a piece of the tableau, is offered here in a more interesting manner, as a three-dimensional form which springs out of the book like a monstor entrapping its message.

This puzzle is not, of course, the sole image. Which of us has not played with pop-up books, where the figures of animals or fairy tale heroes jump out at us when we open the book? Here Konforty, in a mischievous mood, causes the images to leap out at us in a novel manner; you've never seen a pop-up of tragedies or of such highly personal material before. This "wink" at the viewer does not indicate meanness or a sense of humor on her part but rather an attempt to draw the attention of all of us - preoccupied as we are with our lives and our problems - to what disturbs Konforty herself, to focus us for a moment on the issues of burning importance to her - whether as an individual or a concerned artist.

Konforty is engaged in redesigning the book, not as an object of knowledge but as an object with esthetic, even sculptural, values of the type that create a first impression of elemental, sometimes painfull, statements. She is engaged in redesigning the book as a concept.

It would not be completely wrong to see in these works a personal diary of the artist; but it would be closer to the truth to see them, at the same time, as a new and promising style of work for Sara Konforty.

Meir Ahronson, fall, 1995

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