Noa Lidor: The Mammals (site-specific work at the Tate Member's Room at Tate Modern 2008)

This text was published as walltext at the Tate, and, slightly modified, in: Noa Lidor: This Black Ceiling without a Star, cat. Green Cardamom, London 2010

Noa Lidor's The Mammals presents a line of text in Braille, made up of plaster casts of a female nipple.

The Israeli-British artist Noa Lidor often explores the possibilities and restrictions that arise from different forms of communication. This has led her to make a number of works incorporating Braille, the system of writing that was developed specially for blind people, and which many sighted people cannot read. She is particularly fascinated by the sensual quality of Braille, as it is ‘read’ by touch.

Commissioned to make a site-specific work for the Members Room at Tate Modern, Lidor has produced a wall piece called The Mammals, which consists of hundreds of plaster casts in the form of a female nipple, arranged to create a line of Braille text. For those who don’t understand Braille, it will create a sense of longing or frustration at their inability to understand the message, while its sheer scale will prevent blind people from easily piecing the words together. In fact, the text is a translation of the first words of the Members’ Room menu, creating a play on the idea of the museum as the provider of nourishment, whether of actual food or metaphorically through the aesthetic and spiritual power of art.

This simultaneous sense of the desire for communication and nourishment, and its frustration, is typical of Lidor’s fondness for paradox. Her art is characterised by the use of delicate materials like sand and salt, readymade objects such as bells and thimbles and the juxtaposition of the light and the heavy. Her work has a strong poetic quality but also blurs the lines between the ephemeral and the permanent, the visible and the invisible, image and text, and the public and the intimate.

Noa Lidor was born in Israel in 1977. She lives and works in London.