At the beginning of my doctoral dissertation I draw attention to the issue which interests me and which is related to the border between the past and the present. This is the border which I would like to show “locally”. My artistic activities are based on Jewish culture, which is the culture of the border group.

My memories make up my past. The continuation of the past is the present, which revolves around my experiences. The past and the present time will exist as one structure while stirring the composition will be the border moment which will lead to a gradual transformation in the way I and other participants of my active installations think and feel.

My contact with two different worlds and two different times has become the inspiration for the research work. One of them presented an image of very dusty tales I heard as a child. It smelled like a desert from the dust of the pages being turned which told the stories of biblical heroes, raisins, Shabbat candles and sadness for something that is gone. The second world was everything that was happening around me. Both worlds were marked by the cyclical passing of seasons and holidays. I was told that What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9,NIV)

This feeling of suspension between the past and the present does not leave me.

I decided to use a dreidel (a toy top that one plays with during Hanukkah) as the main actor in my attempt to find the border between the past and the present, between here and there. The basis of my installation are memories that appear as time passed, enchanted in people who are gone. The past overlaps with the present. My inspirations and thoughts to date have led me to pose a question about the explanatory power of a dreidel in contemporary art and culture, as I have come to the conclusion that this symbol is not in use. Through my work I would like to show its contemporary interpretation.

Continuing to think about the contemporary possibilities of the dreidel, it seems to me that I would like to see whether it will work as a kind of memory machine. The memories evoked by the stories and then reinforced by the use of the same symbol (a dreidel), which was used by previous generations for Hanukkah rituals, show cyclicity. Every year during the celebration of Hanukkah, which begins on the 25th day of the month of Kislev, the dreidel is set in motion. The racing dreidel, as a highway of reality, still carries the same message (“a great miracle happened there-here”).

Spinning the dreidel, I will repeat exactly what was done in the past and what the next, following generations do. Dancing around in the circle with the help of Neve Drejdelim makes one fall into a special kind of ritual trance. In this way, you can touch the past and bring back past memories while remaining in the present.

In the methodological part of the study, I present the methods that I use to answer the research questions regarding the importance of form and the motion assigned to it, but attention should also be paid to the relationships that exist between them.

Due to the fact that I base my considerations on the form of circular time, I refer to hermeneutics, and especially to a hermeneutical circle. It shows movement and circulation between general theory and details of solutions at work, as well as between history and contemporary times, or between that which is cultural and that which is personal.

As for methodology, I also reach for the anthropological concept related to the threefold  structure of the ritual. This is because I notice the similarity of this passage from “being there” to “being here “, to the rites of the transitional period and the liminal state described, among others, by the British anthropologist Victor Turner. The active installation I created has a causative function. When it is not working it is devoid of that power. Therefore, I also base my project on performance studies which use two elements, namely ritual and play, as the basis for the performance. According to this theory artistic behaviours are everyday activities of a ritual character. Performance art is playing the memories but also their reactualization in a new time and context.

In the later part of my thesis I analyze the iconography of the dreidel in culture, for one can find numerous examples of the presence of this symbol in painting, literature and photography.

I also base my research on Kabbalah. In Kabbalah, it is believed that time can be recovered endlessly. It is like a mythical time made present and the present time in which we take part by the means of rituals which the Bible commands us to perform. These rites, through their repeatability, take on a cyclic, circular form. By means of these ordered rituals people go back to the dawn of time and try to find the right place for themselves in the Tree of Life, which consists of ten sephirots - the emanations of divine light. In my installation, each dreidel taking on the shape of a sephirotic Kabbalistic circle spins separately but also works among the mass of other dreidels. In the circle, its end is also its beginning. All the rituals and holidays consist of updating an event performed ​​in the past. In this way, by means of the rites one can endlessly recover this time. My sephirotic circles are an original journey, bringing back the memories of past generations. In this sephirotic, ritualistic and circular dance one can see a kind of ecstasy which allows the unification of the past and the present for a moment. In addition, the ultraviolet light which appears when the dreidel installation is spinning is to strengthen the mystical nature of the ritual. Referring to the Hanukkah festival, in which “nes godol haja szam/po” (a great miracle happened there-here,), I make a reference to the continuation of generations which in the past performed the same ritual at the time of Hanukkah. It binds fathers with children and children with fathers, giving the bonds a timeless tie. This is why Neve Drejdelim has been surrounded with spatial interpretations of the shape of a dreidel that resembles a house which recalls many meanings, such as shelter, safety, family and memories from childhood.

In the last part of my dissertation I emphasize that the dreidel in my installation takes on unusually personal colours and character.

For me the dreidel becomes a symbol which reminds me of what had been before. It restored my memory and contact with old events. It became the symbol of a specific link between memories and place. However, other people who do not know this symbol may perceive it in a different way.

It is a “toy” from my memories. The dreidel was spun “there” each Kislev (because “a great miracle happened there”) and now I do the same at the same time “here” (“a great miracle happened here”) during the Hanukkah holiday, which commemorates the miracle. I expect this kind of miracle which will connect me with the past generations. In the last part of my dissertation I emphasize the fact that Neve Drejdelim activates my memory and imagination. It creates an area of memories, new connections and senses.

It reveals, evokes and actualizes the past, giving shape to memories and opening the locks of memory. I have limited the influence of Neve Drejdelim as a specific memory machine to myself and I have based it on the motives which are closest to me. With the help of the memory machine I have undergone a kind of ritual which took me from the in-between state to the sphere of a specific kind of overcoming the mystery of silence, purification and seeing my own identity. The Neve Drejdelim installation helped me to overlap the present with the past.

In my search I have travelled the path in the dimensions of time and space. I collected impressions to prepare their description and visual interpretation. This is Neve Drejdelim – my memory machine evoking memories into contemporary times. I am observing and examining what emotions other recipients feel. What are the impressions that my memory machine makes on other people? Does it, as it does for me, pull them into the world of the past, does it evoke memories? I wonder what kind of associations it can call to mind. If someone is not familiar with the symbol of dreidel, will it evoke memories? Will the whirl of the fairy tale world drag the person in? I also assume that the historical meaning of the dreidel may have no significance in this case. Those who encounter the dreidel for the first time will see its hypnotic dance as a vortex of a big city. They will associate it with a multicultural borderland.