Eine Friedliche Industrie (lit. “A Peaceful Industry”) is a Period Room recreation of the artist’s grandmother’s childhood home in Karlsruhe, Germany, made entirely of recycled cardboard and papier-mache.
The building has since been bombed, destroyed and rebuilt. Set in the Autumn of 1938, just before much of the artist’s family fled to the United States and Israel, the home is filled with objects that re-imagine the past and imbue it with a knowledge that comes only with retrospection.
Given the installation’s material and removal from concrete reality, it is in a constant state of wonder, trauma and change. The sculptures within the space are built through archive, myth and genetic memory. They grow and shift along with her knowledge and understanding of history. Objects inside the installation have included the matriarch’s home office and laboratory, a wheelbarrow loaded with an unplugged Volksempfänger (People’s Radio), a gramophone, photographs, albums, books, Jewish ritual objects, Märklin toy trains, various tchotchkes, walls and flooring.
The medium of recycled cardboard acts as both a superficial vessel for memory and as a signifier of transience. The limited materiality creates a monotonous yet unrestrained atmosphere, allowing the audience to enter and project their own experiences and memories of home and belonging onto the room.
Now living in Karlsruhe, Germany, with the support of a Fulbright research grant, the process of re-creating and re-building has been one that pulls the artist into the past while maintaining an impossible distance. The installation exists in a constant state of movement, between memory and reality, between the past and the present, between refuge and retreat and between becoming and undoing.
Ali Shrago-Spechler’s installations paintings, sculptures, installations and interactive events to create a familiar and strange space for her audience. Her hybrid actions employ a reflective nostalgia, exploring the comedy, violence and nuance of history while encouraging viewers to question their own narratives, their self-imposed alienation, and the source and effect of memory.
Ali has shown her work in various locations in both NYC and South Florida, including solo exhibitions at Hadas Gallery, The Wick (f/k/a Space Heater Gallery), Spring/Break Art Fair and group exhibitions at Girls Club and Art & Culture Center of Hollywood, among others. Ali is also the founder of A Whole New Megillah, a situation-specific, performative, and interactive event that annually co-opts the Jewish holiday of Purim. Her work has been featured in the NY Times, Time Out NY, VICE, The Forward, New Times Broward, The Miami Herald and ArtNet News. Ali is the recipient of the 2017 Naomi Anolic Emerging Artist Award and a Fulbright Research Grant (’20-’21).