To Love Ever Again
Aleksandar Tisma, Author of Kapo
When I asked who the author of those drawings was, I found out that it was my hostess. When I insisted, she took me to the third floor, to her room that serves also as her studio where she showed me her latest work on paper in bronze. Some evenings later, when I again found myself in the house of Weissman and Callaghan, I asked to be taken one more time to her studio where I spent half an hour looking at a pile of drawings lying on a bed and at a number of sculptures lined up on a work table.
At this particular time, I was still preoccupied with my novel Kapo, finished a year earlier, but which I was now working on with a French translator. I was astounded to find out to what extent Weissman’s women, caught in spasms of loving, corresponded to my vision of the women who had been victimized by the Kapos of the Nazi concentration camps. Kapo, the protagonist of my novel, abused his power by seducing starving prisoners drawing them into his own embrace.
Their hunger drove them into that blurred neverland that lies between life and death. They were desperate for food that would carry them over to another day. In exchange for reprieves from death he would dole out the seizures of love, by the spoonful. By blackmail, Kapo secured their final, complete abandonment, a vision I discovered in the facial expressions and body movements of Weissman’s women.
At this point, I realized that through her work Weissman has articulated the essence of our generation’s experience of love. As Luigi Pirandello said, the trap of love conditioned by our biological impulse, our urge to survive as a species, has affected each one of us. Beginning with twentieth-century totalitarian regimes, this trap has been laid by man for man. Biological conditioning has made him into a victim ready to be abused in return for that morsel of food necessary to survive another day in the space bounded by camp barbed wire.
Someone once asked the question: is life possible after Auschwitz; but another question imposes itself: is loving after the death camps ever possible again? It is exactly this question that Weissman’s drawings and sculpture explore.