Noa Eshkol
Thorns on Fire, 1991

Photo: Peter Barci, 2012 | Courtesy the Noa Eshkol Foundation for Movement Notation, Holon, Israel

Mixed media textile
295 x 255 cm

Part of the installation Sharon Lockhart I Noa Eshkol, 2012

For a long time, the vibrant wall carpets made of scrap textiles remained a lesser-known aspect of Noa Eshkol’s practice, although she had composed more than 500 of them over a period of thirty-five years. In 2012, during her research in Holon on Eshkol’s work, artist Sharon Lockhart chose the carpets based on shapes that are complementary to her practice as a choreographer, recontextualizing them in a way that Eshkol had never considered before. In placing the carpets horizontally, elevated on rectangular plinths she designed with architects Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena, Lockhart creates a direct relation with the volumes onto which the five channels of the film are projected. 

The work on the carpets emerged spontaneously in 1973, during the so-called Yom Kippur war, a time of deep distress and personal trauma. Composing and pinning together textile scraps on the floor of her studio began as a therapeutic exercise for Eshkol but soon occupied an integral part of the daily studio routine.

Eshkol limited her entourage to a hand-picked group of dancers who formed the Noa Eshkol Chamber Dance Group and were engaged in all aspects of her life and practice. Working as a small and secluded collective, they transcribed notations, practiced dances, gave lessons, kept diaries, and stitched wall carpets. In the social milieu of the studio, the dedicated ethics of group work, collaboration, and conviviality were strongly upheld but also organized according to a strict and unforgiving regime dictated by Eshkol. While she cherished shared authorship, a constant in her work, she demanded full dedication to the collective task, which she perceived to transcend individual interest and comfort. 

The colorful wall carpets’ compositions followed either figurative or abstract arrangements and dancers and friends would later stitch them together and always sign their names on the carpet. While Eshkol never made conceptual connections between the carpets and her dance practice, the source material for the carpets undoubtedly references the form of the body and its relationship to space. Since many of the discarded fabrics were collected from kibbutzim around the country, they bore the imprints of the bodies of their wearers. Others however were recovered from the floors of garment factories–scraps and offcuts with repeating shapes that are the “negatives” of clothing patterns—that is, the outline of a shirt collar or a woman’s dress. Collectively, the wall carpets bring together divergent and overlapping stories, cumulatively resulting in a condensed history of Israeli material culture. 


Group show: Remedios
Venue: C3A Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía, Córdoba
Curator: Daniela Zyman
Exhibition 14 April 2023 -  March 2024

Noa Eshkol, born in Kibbutz Degania, Israel, in 1924. Died in Holon, Israel, in 2007. 

Sharon Lockhart, born in Norwood, Massachusetts, USA, in 1964. Lives and works in Los Angeles, California, USA.
Noa Eshkol Chamber Dance Group - Performance in Sesession, Vienna 2012
Panel Discussion: Sharon Lockhart | Noa Eshkol, Vienna 2012