Bananafish Queen


Jenifer Bar Lev // Bananafish Queen
Tova Osman Gallery for Israeli and Palestinian Art 
April, 2008

 For more than fifteen years I made paintings in which the central image was a sewn and/or painted grid with text. Sometimes I added purchased oil paintings depicting, for example, a mother and daughter watching sailboats, or sailing ships at sea.

For texts I used my dream diaries. The ‘purpose’ of those paintings was to ‘analyze’ the dream, using my personal techniques. Occasionally I succeeded: for example, I am no longer pursued in my dreams by faceless men with knives.

In my dreams I am building a huge endless house, in which I often, with great effort, renovate a room,  which can take years of real time.  I occasionally find new rooms which I previously didn’t know existed.

In 2000 I discovered a whole new wing in this edifice when I resumed painting after a four year break. I developed new techniques: I trace and collect images from various sources. They are filed next to my dream diaries, where I can use them, as I did the dream-texts, at random.

I no longer use my dream diaries for texts, but simply pick words out of the air.
The ‘Bananafish Queen’ – a mermaid – refers to a short story of J. D. Salinger’s: ‘A Fine Day for Bananafish’. The mermaid is also connected to a much older work of mine, ‘Fishworld’.

In 2003, I made a painting with the sentence: ‘Painting While Sleeping’.
This might be a good title for all my work since 2000, if, according to a song we used to sing as children:

Row row row your boat,
Gently down the stream,
Merrily merrily merrily merrily,
Life is but a dream.

Jenifer Bar Lev