Varda Polak-Sahm

"The House of the Secrets

A new exhibition in Studio Artura 

Jaffo, Purija Street 9 


Pictures of the Opening

The body of the woman as a symbol of purity, freedom of the creation and the spirit of expression. This will be presented by the artist Varda Polak-Sahm with her picture series "The Sacred House" The project was the result of her academic research about the "Secrets of the Mikva", published in Hebrew by the Modan Publishing House. It is all about the ritual bath used by Jewish women.  

The exhibition permits a rare into a place of intimate meetings of "women only". It is a place with a mystic athmosphere. The mikva is associated with the experience of baptism. It is a public place, where women strip naked and reveal their body. This moment is part of the tension between the men, who define the rules and the women who liberate themselves from ritual impurity. Symbols of togethernes and female pride are ever-present.  

The Mikva for women is a closed world, like the "forbidden city", sealed behind high walls. It is strictly forbidden for men. Inside it is a world "only for women". Inside women can do what ist forbidden outside. The "House of the secrets" a technical term for the intimate places of the woman, is hidden and yet it is a public place. There ist  a mixture of reality and phantasy.

Varda Polak-Sahm watched the developping dialog between the impure women and the attendants. They must check every part of the women, from the toes to the tip of their hair. After the ceremony of bathing in the water, the women leave the place pure. Now they are again "permitted" for their men. 


The exhibition is an artistic installation recreating the athmosphere of a typical orthodox Mikva in Jerusalem. Part of the exhibition are artistic hand made candles created by Varda Polak-Sahm. The candles are for sale. 

Varda Polak-Sahm is an artist with many ways of expression. It all started with photography. She developped  her career with her husband Ulrich W. Sahm, who is a correspondent for German media. Polak-Sahm put the emphasis of her artistic work on photography. She grew up in Mea Shearim and is deeply rooted into the traditions of Jerusalem. 

Among her most important works is "By Bread Alone". This series of symbolic pictures about basic food, religious belief and tolerance was shown at the Vatican and in many other countries. The documented the gilding of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The result was a "peace album" presented by late Prime Minister Jitzhak Rabin to King Hussein of Jordan at their first historic meeting in Washington. A larger collection of these photos is on tour through museums in Germany and Italy. 

Polak-Sahm discovered a remarkable phto archive of "Barefoot Photographers" in Tilonia, India. As a curator she turned it into an exhibition shown at UNESCO in Paris and at the Brunei-Galery in London. Polak-Sahm received personally Prince Charles at that exhibition. 

Text: Esti Drori and Doron Polak

Opening on 25.3. 2006 at 8:00 pm

The exhibition can be visited until 20.4.2006

Curators: Doron Polak and Esti Drori

Studio Arturo: 03-5188291

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