A Secret’s Prison
Scraps of metal fence serve as the basis for a wall piece in Batia Sha- ni’s installation. The metal is covered by another layer of an archetypi- cal house made of carboard, like a sign of a house, on which the artist placed unwoven children’s vests. These vests were originally knitted to wrap and protect the child who will wear them, to keep him warm. But something went wrong –unwoven and damaged, they can no longer serve their purpose. The mixture of materials that juxtaposes the cold, metallic material with the soft and warm wool, separated by the card- board, creates a system of opposites.
The association between the female body and trauma is a recurring theme in Shani’s art, but in the installation In A Secret’s Prison she touches on domestic violence, focusing particularly on violence against women and children. In families where children are not the victims of direct violence and the mother is subjected to physical and emotional abuse, the children who witness it are also severely affected by psycho- logical damage, which in the future will cause some of them to repeat violent patterns in their own families. The imperative of silence, so often imposed on the victims, exacerbates the trauma.
The installation includes punching bags wrapped in embroidered gar- ments, which hang alongside women’s undergarment that were also embroidered by the artist. The phallic punching bags, usually identified with a predominately masculine sport, also function as an image of a battered woman, creating a duality of femininity and masculinity in one object.
In these works, Batia Shani uses clothes that were worn and still carry the memory of the body, and pieces of used fabrics on which she em- broiders images and texts that simulate blood, bruises and cuts. Using a technique of embroidery, unraveling, and defacement, the needle cuts and pierces the fabric on the one hand, but also mends and opens a pas- sage for air, breathing, and hope on the other hand.