Between Hope and Despair
Yaffa Wainer – Solo Exhibition, June 2016
The Olive Tree as a Symbol of Hope and Despair
The olive tree is known for its longevity. Israel is home to olive trees that are over 2,000 years old. More than any other tree, the olive tree symbolizes its rootedness and connection to the Land of Israel, it has the ability to overcome natural disasters as well as man-made ones. Regrettably, because of is symbolic charge, it has been uprooted mercilessly in territorial wars – an irreversible and heavily emotional predicament. As a tree that universally symbolizes peace, the very act of uprooting the tree in effect roots out any hope for coexistence, peace and calm.
Ancient olive trees signify the connection between people and their past as well as their future. These trees will outlive us, and uprooting them undermines our future. The olive tree narrates our past, and in the future will narrate this era, and cutting it down puts a stop to this continuity and leads to despair.
For me, the olive tree represents peace and hope. Eager to effect change with regard to the status quo of the last few decades, I have painted many olive trees in recent years; through my paintings I express the anguish I feel caused by the current situation. The destruction of olive trees is an affront to society and to coexistence in our country, and it brings about extremism on both sides. My focus on olive trees and their documentation enables me to hold on to the hope for change, the hope for peace.
In this exhibition I address a topic that has been troubling me over the last few years – how is it that we, as a society and a state, have found ourselves feeling so helpless, which leads to a non-solution? I decided to focus my work on olive trees as a metaphor for and a symbol of this impotence, the inability to find a solution, the frustration from the violence that is spreading in the society and country I once loved so much.
It is the duty of the state to ensure the wellbeing, safety, welfare and happiness of all its citizens. These values have been abandoned in the last few years. We have been left exposed, vulnerable and despondent. The felling of the olive trees casts a dark shadow on us all as a society and as individuals. In this exhibition I express my personal grief and despair from this state of affairs. The olives trees are the means through which I illustrate the state of mind I have been in in the last few years.
Nevertheless, I do hope that we are heading towards better days, and just like the olive tree, that we will withstand the hardships of our times.