Paul Celan, The Burning Heat and the Donkey’s Scream, 2018-

“The Burning Heat and the Donkey’s Scream”, dedicated to the historical visit of the Jewish poet, Paul Celan, to Israel (October 1969). The series is part of a joint initiative of Tel Aviv University and Stanford University to mark the 50th anniversary of Celan’s visit. In the series, Abady integrates the image, poetry, and dramatic life of Celan with the poet’s experience in East Jerusalem. Abady collects words and phrases from the poem, “The Burning Heat”, which is part of the Jerusalem song cycle written by Celan in conjunction to his visit, (“The burning heat / counts us together / in the ass’s braying, before Absalom’s tomb…”). The works include words and captions in Arabic and other languages as well as images of historic sites in East Jerusalem. In addition, playing role in the series the donkey images, portraits of Celan and Ilana Shmueli his Chernivtsi youth friend who accompanied him while he was traveling in Israel and more. Abady chooses to emphasize the Levantine / Arab side of the visit of Celan, a side that was not expressed in Celan’s poems nor in the references to his visit over the years. In the second part of the series appears Birch trees on a bright red background, those trees that Celan often wrote about them. For a moment it seems that Europe invaded again to the Levant.

The Celan series links Abady’s previous series, including, his German – Jewish series (“The Arendt Project,” “My Other Germany,” “Augusta Victoria”) and the more recent series, “Back to the Levant”.