At art school E.Z had a good friend named Ronit, which means singing and joy in Hebrew. Ronit had Egyptian ancestors. She was a beautiful woman and because of her Egyptian heritage the artist associated her with one of the most beautiful women on earth, the Egyptian queen Nefertiti. With Nefertiti in mind, Ronit became Roniti, shortened to Titi. Terms of endearment are created in Hebrew by adding the letter ‘i’. And so she was Titi during the four years at art school. Later Ronit changed her name to Rona. She was unhappy with it, she said, she simply didn’t like her name.
In the summer of 2012 E.Z visited the Egyptian museum in Berlin. There, for the first time, she saw the statues of Nefertiti, among which was the famous sculpture with the enlarged skull. ’Why is that?’ she asked herself. It looked so large and unnecessary, as if she had to wear a third breast all her life – like a natural hat. It is, however, an historic fact that the Egyptian kings in Nefertiti’s dynasty had unusually large skulls.
The artist has fairly large breasts, especially in proportion to her slender body (hardly 1.60 m tall and/ of scarcely 50 kg). Her large breasts had always bothered her. As a child she had been a tomboy. She liked to play football, with dirty hands, digging in the mud, running and roughhousing. Suddenly her breasts interfered with all that. She was ashamed of them. For years she considered having them removed or reduced. In the end she didn’t do it.
But she kept finding the attention annoying; after all she hadn’t asked for it. It was a given; she didn’t find them beautiful or convenient. She didn’t want attention for something bestowed on her by nature and genetic fluke, without her permission. Moreover she didn’t have them from her mother. On the contrary, her mother was ashamed of her small breasts. E.Z was jealous when she saw her mother walking around without a bra. She had inherited her large breasts from her grandmothers.
Around the age of 18 to 20, she often went to a dance club with a friend, in the port city of Haifa. They loved dancing and jumping around until five in the morning. It made them both feel incredibly free and cheerful. At those moments the body with the big breasts wasn’t important any longer. Her friend, too, had large breasts. Even bigger than her own. Often young men in the club would ask them: is it your birthday today? At first they both responded naively with ‘No, why?’
‘Then what are the balloons for?’ asked the men, referring to their breasts.
Their happy mood was immediately spoilt.
Sometimes she really did feel like a balloon, filled with air or water. When her breasts and belly are swollen (mostly before her period), she often feels nervous and anxious. And what’s more, she often gets than into fights with her husband.
‘But,’ she asks herself, ‘is it because I am nervous and anxious, or because my breasts are swollen?’ It is the chicken or the egg dilemma.
In many cultures, large breasts are a symbol of fertility, as in the famous Venus of Willendorf. Where does the shame come from? Is there any man ashamed of his large penis? The Venus of Willendorf hangs her head and she has no face. Is that a sign of shame? Either way, Venus seems troubled.
For the artist, it was never love at first sight with her breasts. Still, she wanted to accept them and learn to love them. Sometimes they give her pleasure. Then she is proud of her breasts; walking forwards, upright.
‘I am going to create something beautiful, especially for them. Beautiful like Nefertiti – an Efratiti!’ It must be as smooth and shiny as a Brancusi sculpture (although she could never reach that perfection, nor would she want to). Something like the eroticism and irony in the work of Louise Bourgeois. She wanted to celebrate the eternal feminine, the sweet, round fertility that smells of beeswax.
When the sculpture was complete and she could slowly start to accept her breast, and even appreciate its beauty, she received an e-mail from her friend, with whom she used to go dancing.
“Could we talk for a moment today? Everything is fine, but I need your advice!”
She called her friend.
“In three days I have an appointment for breast reduction surgery. I am scared, what should I do?”
Efratiti sent her friend a picture of her sculpture…