Dana Gur Ze’ev

“We never talked much about what had happened to my extended family during the holocaust. It was a kind of taboo. I grew up without grandparents, and had no uncles or aunts. It left a great void in my life. I could only relate to my lost family through photos my parents had somehow managed to keep throughout the holocaust. As a child, I remember I loved looking at those pictures – it made me feel as if they were still part of us.

Dolls were my favorites when I was a child, and I loved creating paper images and clothing items. Fifty years later, and thanks to this love, I am a puppeteer who happily produces all kinds of puppets. The joy of creation and the fact that my husband had launched, at about the same time, a research of his own family history, made me think I should try to make real dolls based on those faded family photos of mine. This idea has indeed ignited a creative process which sent me on a journey of discovering my family past. Creating the dolls made me look at these people again, study their features and feel closer to them, closer than I’ve ever felt before.

I am glad I could reconnect with my family through art, and help other people reconnect with their families as well. Sometimes I hope my relatives would come back to life, just like Pinocchio – and then I remind myself that it’s the classic fantasy of every puppeteer, and I that I cannot really bring them back to life. I wish they could talk with me about the things they had gone through, but this won’t happen either. Nevertheless, I am glad to have been able to endow them with some substantive attributes and thus commemorate them beyond those old, faded photographs.”

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