Zoe Grindea


The world presented by Zoe’s photographs is a mythical world.
It starts somewhere in Genesis, with the primal separation of the genders, male from female,
and ends merely at the end of the world, with the final separation, those designated for heaven
from the ones designated to go to Hell. While the visual world of Zoe is characterized by the
grandiosity between genesis and apocalypse, altogether different forces strive underneath it:
intimacy, naughtiness. In this context it is impossible to ignore the fact that the sitters in
Zoe’s photographs are her three kids. Zoe, a photographer and a mother, flashes on her own flesh
and blood, therefore it is not surprising that all these universal subjects are just a wrapping
to the true grain of the work all of which is intimate, most intimate.

If one has to chose one component that concentrates all of the issues sizzling under Zoe’s
photographs, I believe it can be found in the flowing blond hair of Zoe’s middle child – Libi.
This golden hair is a meeting point between storm and childhood serenity, between golden
paradise and death awaiting anyone trying to stretch his hand and reach its beauty: the same
death that awaited Avshalom as his hair got bounded in the branches, the same death that
awaited those that stood before Medusa’s scattered hair or the same death of those betrayed
by their own desire facing the sirens seduction. There is no doubt that Zoe’s photographs
bring together seduction innocent, serenity and danger, but above all, just like that golden
hair, they are, first of all, beautiful. In such a way Zoe presents the concept so often lost
in the art field of recent decades, that the heart of plastic art rests upon working with

One of the recurring themes in Zoe’s work is duality. One can spot this motif in a series
of photographs of Zoe’s son, which draws its inspiration from Narcissus’ myth, and also in
another photograph of the same child with two feminine figures drawn in the background.
The motif is detectible also in the photographs in which Zoe’s two daughters appear with a
similarity that misleads one for a moment and by doing so pulls him to back to deal with
duality, a subject that reemerges in the context of the pair of fish that comes out more than
once in thephotographs. Duality is a deep encounter between aesthetics, striving to the harmony
of symmetry residing in the living, […] Duality is a kind of absence of life since it takes
away the uniqueness from a human being, and thus his humanity. Not unintentionally is this
image so casual in the visual world of horror stories and films. In this respect, in dealing
with this motif, Zoe manages again to create the encounter of beauty and death. The motif
receives yet another layer by the fact that it is a mother photographing her own children,
her own reproduction which also has a sort of duality, gift of life and death.

In parallel one can notice the opposite motif – the division. In a piece where her son holds
the sward in such a way that it splits his face in two echoes again the inseparable connection
between beauty and symmetry and incision and death. The motif receives yet again a surprising
layer, considering the fact that the figure is the photographer’s son. Some sort of Salomon
judgment that Zoe conducts within herself. Childbirth not only as multiplication and
reproduction but as self dissection as well.

Notwithstanding, despite Zoe’s occupation with fateful subjects such as life and death,
the child’s sward is a toy’ the lights decorating these pseudo-baroque photographs are nothing
but cheap birthday party lights, ending in such a way that all mentioned grandiose contents are
squeezed into brackets. The work exteriorizes baroque esthetics but embodies the kind of
awareness and self contradiction which is, in my opinion, the major characteristic of our time.

Zoe uses the power hidden in the roll of children as models in order to enrich the complexity
of the work in relationship to words such as awareness and irony. When children are models,
the observer is aware, in a certain aspect, of the very partial and idiosyncratic understanding
of the very same models/children, of the situation in which they play a part. The gazes and
setting-ups of the children, gazes and setting-ups that are never completely played, since
playing borders in childhood are so flexible still, force more than once a context of a jest,
of a naughty act, on the sublime and allegedly “heavy” contents from which the works emerged.
As such, the malice in them is forever forgiven, the subversion in them is always innocent
and their heart always smiles.

The complexity of childish gaze looking from a photograph that was thought of and carried out
by an adult climbs to a sort of climax, in my opinion, in the photograph of both of Zoe’s
daughters in which Libby appears (the older, on the right) with her fingers creating a sort
of a monocle through which she is looking at the lens, and in fact at us, the observers of
the photograph, as well. There is present,in this gesture, the full complexity of a child
who actually plays but takes part in a game too big for his capacity to grasp. A game of
observers and objects’ of truth and fib, of allthe things children do not completely
understand, a game between all that can be planned in a staged photograph and all that
one can never plan – a spontaneous gesture of a child, the scattering shape of girl’s
golden hair.

by Amir Shefet

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