Aya Ben-Ron’s First Aid project is comprised of two colorful panoramic prints (initially published on two sides of a rigid and collapsible book), complimented by a black and white booklet of First Aid instructions.
The first scene depicts almost naked, amputated and sickly figures, seen standing or floating in a sea or a lake and lying on its snow-covered rocky shore. Completely disassociated from their setting and lacking the expressions of anguish and pain one would expect, the figures appear to be divorced from their suffering and indifferent to their surroundings.
The second panorama displays groups of soldiers carrying and aiding one another in a variety of standard military routines of assisting the wounded. The soldiers supported by their friends do not appear injured, and the scene seems more like an army drill than a traumatic event. At the foreground, however, in a bed of flowers, lie two bandaged and severed heads - a sinister reminder of the calamity awaiting on the other side of the page.
In contrast to the alien – ‘far eastern’ – landscape, where the catastrophe of terror is located, the backdrop to the second and less threatening scene is the more familiar Israeli landscape of desert and olive trees.
The booklet accompanying the prints contains First Aid instructions copied from old First Aid manuals. “I haven’t added a single word of my own,” Ben-Ron recently told art critic Dana Gilerman,“ but I did take sentences out of context and recombine them”. Similarly, the drawings of mutilated figures illustrating the text are constructed of disjointed body parts. Rather than horrify viewers, they suggest a puzzle that can be recombined and reset in a variety of playful ways.
To paraphrase Gilerman: Ben-Ron has created a survival kit for the chaotic Israeli existence, where anything can happen at any given moment, and where there is always a need for an instruction manual to enable one to make it from one day to the next.