Debra Pearlman: Child Crusade
About the Children's Crusade and Cuts in the Skin
American Artist and Leipzig Resident in Two Exhibitions on the City's West Side, February 2011

Life is fragile and easily damaged, as we know. From different aspects, Debra Pearlman at the Delikatessenhaus and Jürgen Raiber at Galerie Hoch & Partner investigate the fear of injury, loss, disappearance, and death.

The American, who lives in Brooklyn, represents in her work the theme of the Children's Crusade. In that moment of madness in history, children and adolescents from Lothringen and the Rheinland in the year 1212 joined to free Holy Jerusalem from the infidels. Apparently this crusade got no farther than Genoa, where the sea unfortunately did not part for the pilgrims, as promised by their scarcely older leaders. The children turned back, but many died and never made it home. Still, the legend inspired numerous histories and stories about suffering children, holy in their insane quest, led astray barefoot in the Alps.

A shadow of premonition pervades Pearlman's art, which often concerns children and their feelings. One senses a melancholy as well a buoyant but illusive freedom as she draws and layers multiple figures of individual children in expressive postures on translucent sheets of paper. Delicate networks of captured and fleeing heroes, their figures emerging and fading in ink, appear on the white vellum as arms loop through rope nooses—but more we do not see.

With urgent solicitude the artist unfolds a tender frieze of calm and fleeing children around the gallery walls. Both upper exhibition spaces contain monumental drawings that paper the rooms and create a confining space of photo-collaged arms and hands on depicted woven rope. The horizontal format summons the idea of a grinding march of captives.

Pearlman endows her heroes—the children—with a physical presence, while she simultaneously brings their very existence into question....

(Thanks to Mina Roustayi and Judah Lowe for translation.)