Rachel Roggel, conceptual artist who creates with thousands of buttons and button-holes, joined four years ago the international project of quilt art journals. Her works addressed the worries of a mother towards her son’s enlistment in the army which is mandatory in Israel. These journals were exhibited in museums and galleries in US and France and are documented in a book.
Buttons often serve as a means of identification, represent social acceptance and social standing and status, and represent the quality of the cloth: simple, fancy, cheap, expensive, sporty or elegant. Buttons are a kind of personal memorabilia…
Though she sews thousands of buttons in her works, Rachel does not sew a button falling off a cloth, unless it is from a uniform.
Soldiers and buttons are associated in tragic connections of body identification. This is how Napoleon’ soldiers killed in Acre in 1799 were identified; tens of thousands of bodies in “brothers’ grave” in Vilna who perished during Napoleon’s withdrawal from Moscow in 1812, and the British soldier in Flanders in 1917. The “worthless” button is sometimes the only memorial the soldier has.
The exhibit has nineteen A4 size works in 3 series: in the first, the contour is made of a weapon cleaning flannel, the second is the strips –“service bar” and the third is black. The connection of weapon and war leads to mourning.
On the surface – beads, buttons and tiny colorful dolls. Supposedly colorful and happy. However, under the surface the message is hard, painful and tragic. South American “worry dolls” under your pillow suppose to worry for you – here they are sometimes destroyed, mutilated and represent the horrors of war. The dolls which suppose to relax represent a nightmare come true. The colorful strip jacket represent death.
Since the final death is when there is no one to remember you, Rachel Roggel seeks to preserve a collective memory, remember those we owe our living here.
Roggel’s work has been shown internationally, published in books and magazines and aired on TV and radio. Her work can be seen at www.roggel.com.