Debra Pearlman: House of Children
"In the fall of 2004, Debra Pearlman was invited to participate in the 1st International Art Biennale in Lodz. Deeply moved and inspired by the history of the buildings, one a former orphanage, she created the installation House of Children as a response to the site.
  The dimly lit, raw room was filled with glass swings orderly arranged in measured rows. Not moving. Beneath were white rectangular canvases made out of salt still showing the trace of the hand, which shaped them in form. Images sandwiched between glass cast ghost-like shadows of sleeping children onto these beds of salt. Silence.
  Debra Pearlman's work has always engaged in the discourse of childhood in our contemporary society. Choosing materials such as glass, paper, and salt for their qualities of translucency, fragility, and life, Pearlman strikes a balance between the intellectual substance and the visual aesthetic of the work. Focusing on childhood gestures—the ease and joy of a swing and the innocence and trust of sleep&mdashHouse of Children bears a potential of emotions connected with our private lives and with the lives of these anonymous children."

  —Elisabeth Akkerman, 2008



"The exhibition takes place during the 18th Jewish Culture Festival at no. 18 Meiselsa Street and the installation consists of 18 glass plates. In the Hebrew language the number 18 signifies life. The installation by New York artist Debra Pearlman is held in a former Prayer House. It consists of 18 swings made of plates of glass with photographs of sleeping children placed on them suspended from the ceiling on steel wire. On the floor underneath the stretch little "beds" of poured salt onto which light from lamps hung above the swing casts shadows of the photographed children. It's all in a quiet, dark, and raw, yet at the same time intimate space (surrounded by recently-uncovered frescoes depicting Jerusalem).
  House of Children, like all of Debra Pearlman's work, is characterized by a certain elusiveness, a "phantomness", and allusiveness. Using the motifs of childhood—swings associated with the carefree happiness and photographs of sleeping children—Debra Pearlman employs techniques and materials that evoke the impression of fragility and ephemerality. Combined with quotations from the Bible, the poetry of Osip Mandelshtam, and that of the 6th century poet Yannai, which the artist has placed on the walls of the synagogue, the work induces one to reflect on the human condition. As the fragment from the Book of Job, placed on the main wall proclaims, "For we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow."

  —Anna Glowa, "A History Lesson and Shadows",
   Gazeta Wyborcza—Krakow, July 2008



"At 18 Meiselsa Street, beginning this Saturday afternoon, we can see House of Children—an installation by the esteemed New York artist Debra Pearlman. Debra Pearlman, who has already exhibited in Krakow, this time has built an installation of photographs on plates of glass and the shadows they cast. The juxtaposition of the concrete with the elusiveness of the shadow is complemented by the symbolism of numbers (in Hebrew language the number 18 signifies life), the site [a former prayer house—trans.], and the objects together create the magic of this event."

  —Jolanta Antecka, "Jewish Cultural Festival—on the
   Exhibition Trail", Dziennik Polski, June 2008



"House of Children, an installation by Debra Pearlman (U.S.) of a dozen swings with oversized seats, evoked a precarious balance between sleep and death. The work took its title from a ruined orphanage in Lodz that the artist had learned about. Sandwiched between the surfaces of the glass swings' seats were acetate images of sleeping children. A lamp suspended above each swing projected a soft image of the children onto salt spread beneath the seat."

  —Christopher Lyon, Art in America, April 2005
   (review of installation for Biennial in Lodz, 2004)