The following is an excerpt written by artist Michal Zakai…
The issue of embracing has recently come to the forefront in the context of the coronavirus plague that has made regular physical contact a source of danger, but it seems that it is precisely the restrictions on physical contact during this period that raise the importance of investigating the psychological and cultural meanings surrounding the embrace.
My preoccupation with the hug began with the thought of the hug at the beginning of life, when the mother’s enveloping and embracing contact serves as a mediator between the baby and the world and lays the emotional substrate that allows for development and growth.
Studies show that human affection helps the normal development of infants. It helps them understand the limits of their body, to sleep well, to feel relaxed and to be healthier.
Touch is the dominant link between the baby and his or her environment despite their relationship with the other senses.
With the birth of my granddaughters, the pleasure of embracing the babies was mingled with my own infant memories in the kibbutz, where the care of us children was undertaken by caregivers and contact with our parents was limited.
The lack of contact of parents was intensified if the parents were busy with the affairs of the kibbutz and or were not aware and mature to give the hug at the beginning of life to each child according to his or her unique needs.
My recent realization and understanding of the effects of the missing hug with a child and the wound it forms led me to discover the “First Hug Association”, which was founded in 2004.
“First Hug” is a voluntary mission which operates in hospitals across Israel, with the mission of embracing abandoned babies.
Familiarity with the association intensified for me the experience and insight into the meaning of the first hug.
Memories from infancy in the kibbutz and the acquaintance with the ‘First Hug Association’ led me to raise the issue through my works.
I seek to illuminate through my works the question of the quality or lack of the first hug, how it influences the body and mind and shapes the emotional reality of the child and later the adult.
Michal Zakai’s solo exhibition will be held at the Ministry Gallery in Tel Aviv during the month of August, 2021.
The exhibition began on August 1st and will close on August 29.
Gallery Hours: Tues.-Thurs., 10:00am-5:00pm and Fri., 10:00am – 1:00pm.
Michal Zakai’s Website
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