Israeli, born Germany 1933
Mita Meshuna (the Artist's Monogram)
200 x 170 x 25 cm
Purchase, Recanati Fund for the Acquisition of Israeli Art
© The artist
Accession number: B85.0632
Tumarkin's mixed-media sculpture was undertaken two years after the start of the Lebanon war, a period during which nearly every day was marked by the announcement of the death or wounding of a soldier on the northern front. During the years 1982-84, the artist concentrated on the themes of crucifixion and death, employing these motifs to highlight worldwide cases of injustice and cruelty.
This cruciform sculpture is based on the anthropomorphic shape of an army stretcher, nailed to and hanging by its "arms" from a horizontal wooden plank, upon which the title of the work is inscribed. The first word in the title, mita, constitutes a pun on the Hebrew words for "death" and "bed" (they are spelled differently but pronounced the same.) Coupled with the word meshuna, the phrase means either "unnatural death," such as that of a soldier in battle, or "curious bed," such as this field hospital stretcher.
Tumarkin tied black, white, and blue strips of cloth to the "arms" and the lower part of the sculpture's "body"; the black strip functions as a loincloth while the others suggest a torn Israeli flag.