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The Unsightly and The unseen, Yishay Garbasz works 1997-2017

Bellow are short discriptions for many of the projects even ones not shown here as well as a rough devision into catagorys that might help. ("The Unsightly and The Unseen, Yishay Garbasz at Home at the Border", is a title of an article by Jeffery Shandler) its just such a perfect description of the works (and a wonderful article) the article is in selected press.


For over 20 years my work has explored culturally specific inheritance of traumatic memories. By working with marginalized communities and in areas affected by war and disaster, I am engaged in a continual process of making the invisible visible. The violence in our countries (particularly against those who are the most vulnerable) is not undone with the passing of time, nor is the acute e ect of domestic violence. In short, the indiscriminate violence of war does not end when the war ends.

The drive to make this work comes from having survived childhood abuse. My artistic practice is grounded in Zen monastic training and is another tool for seeing my self. Seeing who I am is only the beginning of my growth as an artist, as my identity has been forged by the trauma I inherited from my mother and her experiences in the Holocaust. This traumatic experience and other parts who I am forms the rst half dealing with IDENTITY—that is further divided into 3 subsections, with trauma as the initial consideration.

GENDER is the second part of my exploration of identity: I meditate on my own body during the process of gender a rmation surgery. While it is only one part of who I am, the discrimination that trans women experience all over the world, as well as reduced chances of thriving and significantly shortened life expectancy, demands consideration. I experience exclusion in every facet of my personal and professional life as a matter of course.

Lastly, as part the ‘Identity’ section, I present works that explore MY PLACE IN THE WORLD and how I t in. In one project, I returned to Israel in an attempt to see what I could not while growing up there, specifically the ways in which it goes beyond the polarized representation with which it is mostly portrayed.

After working on exploring my own identity, especially my traumatic narrative, it became necessary to bear witness to others’ struggles and experiences of trauma. The same drive that had me turn inwards to explore my own identity has allowed and even pushed me to look outwards. It is the same responsibility that I have for myself that has me bearing witness to the trauma of others. The second half of this book will show works that BEAR WITNESS. This part contains works that explore intergenerational memory, landscapes of memory and forgetting, the legacy of war, human rights, consciousness raising and the ght against marginalization and culturally specific inheritance of traumatic memories.




Short Project Descriptions


COLOR ABSTRACTS OF NATURE Created as part of Zen monastic training, 1997-1999


IN MY MOTHER’S FOOTSTEPS Following the path my mother took during the Holocaust, from her birthplace in Berlin, Germany to her escape to Holland, deportation to Westerbork, then Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Christianstadt, the death march and Bergen Belsen, where she and her two sisters were liberated. An exploration of my inheritance of her traumatic memories by utilizing these exact locations, 2000-2009

THE NUMBER PROJECT I branded my mother’s Auschwitz number on my arm and photographed it as it healed as well as myself with it in di erent social contexts, 2011

IN THE SAME HOUSE Where a family lived for four or more generations: Explores the intergenerational lives of aboriginal Hakka people in rural south Taiwan, who are discriminated against as the “Jews of the East,” 2006-2007



BECOMING Displays images of my body before and after gender affirmation surgery as the second largest zoetrope in the world, as well as a flip book, to shatter the stereotypes of before/after of transgender lives, 2007-2010

EAT ME DAMIEN Sculpture, formaldehyde-protected testicles removed during surgery, 2011

FISH PRINTS Examining the before and after of my genitals using Gyotaku (Japanese 魚魚, from gyo“ + taku „stone impression“) the traditional Japanese method of printing sh, 2008

GENDER PROJECT Exploring what is the minimal amount of visual detail that determines gender, as well as using negative space, multiple exposure self portraits, 2002-2003

PREGNANCY Medium format B&W self portraits, 2002

A WAKE FOR JESSIE AND JESSIE 2008. A wake to my testicles including eulogies and festive dinner for the testicles (both named Jessie).


BEING SEEN large format photography of audiences during performances from the perspective of the actors at center stage, 2003-2006

STREET PHOTOGRAPHY: 2000 – ongoing: BW 2000-2003, Demonstrations 2004-2013, Berlin water ght 2005, Thai new year 2006-2007, Thailand 2006-2007, NYC 2003-2005, Berlin 2005-ongoing


IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH: In response to being poisoned during residency at MMCA Seoul, 2014

GERMANTOWN: B&W large format photography of a small town in upstate New York, 2001-2002

ISRAEL IN MORE THEN ONE DIMENSION: Exploring Israel outside of the stereotypes of how it is portrayed, 2002-2004

ARCHITECTURE OF DUTCH BROTHELS 2005. Friends of my grandparents lived where now is a red-light district in Groningen. The architecture is unique as it has to maximize use of the street facing windows for the workers. The narrow front has to support 3 doors. one leads up one leads down and one leads to the back.

ARCHITECTURE STUDIES. Architectural studies with large formats (8×10 and 4×5) from around the world. 2003-ongoing

NO MORE WAR, performances March 2003 Bard College. Choreography and one of the dancers. A work in response to the second Iraq war. Using the exact movements for open terrain team assault I learned during o cers corse in Israel during the rst Iraq war. Live jazz piano and vocals Akie Bermiss.

SEVERED CONNECTION Do what I say or they will kill you: Uses landscapes of borders in the Koreas, Israel/Palestine, and Belfast to illuminate the process of using fear of the “Other” as instruments of control. 2003-2015

COMING HOME Portraits of women: Portraits of trans women as leaders and role models just like everyone else. Presented in the way and with whom they chose, 2013- ongoing

RITUAL AND REALITY Examines the impact of trauma from the Fukushima nuclear exclusion zone all the way to Tokyo, 2013

THROW THE POISON IN THE WELL Collaboration with Yumi Song, exploring the similar experiences of racism suffered by a Korean-Japanese women living in Japan and a Jewish women living in Germany, 2016

NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US Commissioned public installation for Trans Pride Brighton in collaboration with Annie Goh (UK). Using audio and visual installation, giving stories of trans people, which are not about being trans, a chance to be heard. 2016

TRIATHLON ACTIVIST A project to include fat, trans, poor bodies in what is an exclusive and very privileged space, that of specialized sports, in particular racing triathlons and other endurance sports, 2014-ongoing

THE LONG STORY OF THE CONTACTS OF “THE OTHER SIDE” Site and culture-speci c installation derived from a severed connection, Kyoto, 2016

N 37° 25‘ 20“, E 141° 1‘ 58“ 11.3.2011 A collaboration with Musician Nikola Lutz, including a performance of mushroom fire clouds on my own body, all in response to the 11.3.2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown. As part of a group show by a group of Japanese artists in Berlin, this was an artistic response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster and devastation. The piece invokes elements of life and death via the sounds and visuals of surgery, as well as re on the human body. The risk involved create immediacy. as no special e ects were used in the re performance.

PRUNING IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN Collaboration with Yoshiko Shimada (JP), examining the complexity of male circumcision around the world, 2008-2009