Israel Patrons Circle

Elinor Sahm‘Your Green Eyes Shine Bright’, 2023

Elinor Sahm’s installation is a testimony to love. It is the story of her grandparents who danced their way through the Jerusalem of their youth and into old age. It is the story of a young girl, Behira (Clara) Abuganim, who was cured of trachoma by Dr. Ticho, the famous eye doctor, and later became known for her beautiful green eyes, eyes that would capture the heart of a young man, Izaak Alayoff, who would serenade her with the words of a famous song of the time: “Your green eyes shine bright / They are like two emeralds /   . . . I am seared by green light / By the light of your eyes, emerald light” (from “Green Eyes,” 1948, lyrics by Hillel Avihanan Bergman). It is the story of the love of that very same doctor and his wife, Anna Ticho, a love that led S. Y. Agnon to celebrate Dr. Ticho’s sixtieth birthday with these words: “It must be from his love of painting that he devoted himself to healing and opening the eyes of the blind, so that everyone could see the wonderful pictures of Madame Anna Ticho, which enrich all who look at them.”

It is also the story of Ticho House, a building that has served as a home, a hospital, and an artist’s studio, and is now transformed into a museum and public space. The memories of the house reside in its walls, in the objects on display, in the stories told about it, and even in ruins hidden beneath the floors. The sculpture in the centre of the gallery is based on the remains of Anna Ticho’s studio, dismantled when the house was transformed into a museum in the early 1980s. During restoration works in 2014–15, these remains were found discarded in the cistern below the gallery floor. Sahm has brought them back into the light through her sculpture; as the visitor gazes at the work, images of green leaves and flowers, based on plants from the Ticho garden, grow and cover it and the gallery floor. The installation, with its parallel narratives, brings together her family history and that of the house itself, creating an experience that leads us to contemplate the many private stories forming the public history of a site, whether it be home, museum, or city. [text by curator Timna Seligman]