Dad Will Bring the Moon
In the children's book The Princess Who Wanted the Moon Princess Lenore falls ill because of her desire to have the moon. Her father, the King, calls in his three advisors: the Lord High Chamberlain, the Royal Wizard and the Royal Mathematician, commending them to quickly obtain the celestial body for his daughter. The advisors give different reasons why it is impossible to bring the moon to the palace: it's too big, too far away or made from a burning fire that will set the whole kingdom in flames. Eventually, the mission is accomplished thanks to the Court Jester who asks the Princess what does the moon look like and what is it made from, only to present her with the moon - a small, round and golden pendant, hung on a necklace.
In first reading, it seems like this is a story about a father-daughter unconditional love, but when reading between the lines, questions emerge: why doesn’t the fathers tell his daughter about the moon's true nature? Why doesn’t he take the opportunity to teach her about the wonders of nature? Is preserving the fantasy the Princess lives in, comes from the desire to keep her innocence shielded from the sober grown-up world? Or maybe it derives from a need to try and keep the Princess in her role as a child, dependent on her dad?
It is obvious that the King loves his daughter dearly and wishes to help and cure her. But through the story, he doesn’t even consider the option of simply asking the Princess what she wishes for. In fact, the one who is asking her is the Jester, a minor character in the King's court, which has no real responsibilities. The King isn’t asking for the Jester's advice, only orders him to play for him. Only then the Jester turns to the King and offers his help.
Aharonovitch's sculptures, strewn through the gallery, correspond with these complex questions regarding human relationships. They depict different scenes showing the dad’s efforts to bring his daughter the moon - through the reflection of the moonshine in the water, by sculpting the moon in marble, by replacing it with a rounded light bulb and more. Occasionally his daughter takes part in the process, and sometimes the father appears alone. In those moments it seems like the dad himself is moonstruck, caught in a hazy madness he is not aware of, completely driven by this powerful pressing urge to fill his daughter's wish. From this obsessive want, a work of art is born: the dad cannot give his daughter the distant moon, but the creative solutions he invents bring new objects to the world - objects that embody the child’s desire and ask to get her closer to the thing that is always beyond her arm's reach.
But a representation of a thing is not the thing itself. In the end, each of the dad's solutions is only a substitute, a pale impression of the moon which he can't get for his little girl, and all his attempts will end in failure. Aharonovitch's works are showing the daughter’s resistance to her father's attempts: in most of them, she is moving away, evading his hold and turning her back. The dad wastes his time in a hopeless toil, trying to enlist his daughter to the fight for her own wishes. But she is actually trying to get away from him, to distance herself, maybe even to individually gratify her own wishes, without his help.
The works in the exhibition are inspired by known children's books, folk tales and mythological stories, which receive a new interpretation in the sculptured images. These works also shed a light on the father-daughter relationship. For instance, one sculpture exhibits the daughter in a white dress, turning her face to the moon, like in the story Hanna's Sabbath Dress – but the moon isn’t there. Another sculpture shows the dad trying to dress his daughter in wings – just like Daedalus, the talented artist from the Greek mythology, who asked to escape with his son Icarus from the island of Crete with wings made of feathers, strings and wax. Daedalus and Icarus’s tale ends tragically: Icarus, the rush boy, doesn’t listen to his father and flies higher and higher up to the sun. The wax holding his wings starts to melt, and he falls down to the sea and drowns.This familial relationship, as the one of the King and Princess Lenore, raises questions about dependency and need, and call us to look at our need to satisfy the other – even when the price is high. Hubris is also present in these stories: in the mythological story the son is the sinner, not obeying his dad. In the children's tale it is the dad who asks to be all-mighty, and in becoming so, flatly lying to his daughter.
One other sculpture presents the girl joining her dad in his mission: both are hunched over a wooden ladder that will help them climb to the moon. But the daughter's angry look and the sharp nails protruding from both their mouths are implying an almost violent reaction simmering under the surface. Another sculpture illuminates their cooperation in a different light: a big moon stands now in front of them, while the dad tries to roll the white ball toward his daughter. Out of a desperate effort to fulfil her wishes, the dad doesn't realize that his daughter is pushing the moon away from her. Can he really know what she wants? Does she actually want his help? Both of them are trapped on opposite sides of the moon: they can't see each other because the moon is too big and each of them looks to the other direction. The image of the dad, pushing the moon, reminds us of the mythological story of Sisyphus, who was destined to roll an immense boulder up a hill every day, from dawn till dusk, only to see it tumble down the mountain when the night falls. Same as Sisyphus, the dad insists to complete this impossible and useless task.
In each of these situations, it seems that the dad tries to satisfy his daughter's wishes, but just like the King he doesn't only help her - he is also causing her harm: it appears he is compelled to prevent her from becoming an independent adult. All the cultural narratives on parents and their children are now exposed when we understand that the parental figure who wishes to benefit their child, try at the same time to capture them, hinder their steps and keep them in a constant state of need.
Maybe this is true not just for parents and their children, but for all of human society: when do we really try to help the other? And when we do it only to feel good about ourselves? How much responsibility do we take for the actions and needs of someone else? And when this responsibility becomes a restriction? Are our actions independent, or are they taken for other people to approve of? The potential of good intentions appears at Aharonovitch's works as if it paves the road to tangled, complicated and overprotective relationships; an intricate human bond, in which it's not clear who gives and who receives, who is accountable and who is guilty of hubris, who is the adult and who is the child.