Drawing Modification – Rivkah
My drawing was a portrait-study of my friend that I had made as part of a project with her about her heritage as the niece of a desaparecido (Argentina, 1978). I brought it in to be modified as it was a ‘discard’ from the project. Making this drawing had brought home to me the importance of the portrait being life size. The sheer size of this image (50x70cm) had turned her into a giant and removed the intimacy between her and the listener. I was nervous about having the drawing modified because I felt very protective of the image as a representation of my friend and conscious of my responsibility towards her, having engaged her in a project where I had promised her a safe and respectful environment in which to share such intimate and difficult history. All the other figurative pieces were treated with a certain respect – faces were modified, colours and marks were added but the faces were not scarred or destroyed. I was conscious of watching my drawing out of the corner of my eye, like a protective mother. For a long time it went untouched. Suddenly, I saw Johanna working on it and I watched in horror as she ripped out the eye, blacked out the cheeks and turned the image upside down. She left the image completely unrecognisable, except for the girl’s nostrils that poked out through the black collage. I interpreted this on a sadistic level as the torturer who never allows their victim the relief of actually dying. I was getting more and more upset by her willful vandalism when finally she placed a bunch of flowers in front of the image. She knew nothing about the story behind the drawing and this action moved me to explain the drawing’s history to her but it was as if somehow on a subconscious level the drawing had already explained itself to her.