Verena Prenner

Humor needs the human, onion doll the woman

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For 4 months now I’ve been living in a Palestinian refugee camp. Many nights are marked by Israeli military operations and house searches, which repeatedly lead to riots and protests. Awakened by the noise of the riots and tear gas explosions, I´m sitting in my apartment. The windows are leaky and the tear gas is entering my place. For a second, I ask myself “What the hell am I doing here?” and I start to reflect the current situation.

“Onion doll”

The smell of the tear gas reminded me of advice from some friends, who told me, if you smell it, take an onion, cut it in the middle and inhale it. The essential oil of the onion will prevent your body from absorbing the tear gas.  A quick look in the kitchen, but there are no onions there. Back on the old couch in my living room, a cup of tea in between my hands and my eyes are staring out of the window into the dark.  Suddenly the artistic idea of a male onion doll appears. A combination of the “forbidden” and the “helpful”.

Days later and with 15 kg of onions, a banana and 4 metre wire, I’m building my doll in the form of a sculpture. 35 degrees outside, “the helpful” smell of the onion is now becoming a torture. A week after the end of the Gaza war the daily life in the camp seems to be back, but the picture of my doll, as an artistic reflection and memory, stays with me.