Nurit Yarden, Scrabble, 2010, general view (1), Chelouche Gallery, Tel Aviv
Dr. Ktzia Alon
"We can say that the concept ‘game’ is a concept with blurred edges", wrote philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in his book "Philosophical Investigations". It seems that Nurit Yarden’s new photographic work moves along the seam line between object and concept, game and reality, the prohibited and permitted, and the local and international.
Yarden is exhibiting four unraveled series: night shots of glamorous signs for cheap hotels, words written with old Scrabble tiles on a wooden stand placed on a simple tablecloth, children’s toys simulating reality, and "sweets": photographs of small sugar packets with imprinted images.
The photographic entirety created from these series is an entirety of refined sublimation, and yet it has emotional depth. Yarden succeeds in photographing tiny, almost negligible pieces of reality which tie the picture together: a small children’s toy, a word loaded with meaning in Scrabble, a long worn-out image imprinted on a sugar packet.
The deep structure of the entire oeuvre moves on the axis between meticulous discipline, deviously encoded in the perfectly-pressed checkered tablecloths, and the desire to get out, fly away, flee, embodied in the children's toys, which are all means of transportation.
What are "children's games" and what are "adult games?" The photographs exist in the realm between these two extremes.
Five Scrabble words impose their meanings upon us: witness, whisper, protest, reframe and prevail. The words crack the saccharine coating of the iconic photographic subjects: the Eiffel Tower, Elvis Presley, a beauty salon, the Lotus Hotel. They break through the images, piercing holes in them. They are all 7 letter words which grant a special bonus, according to the rules of the game.
There is tension between the "Scrabble" series and the three other series. It is the tension between the local (which the Hebrew words clearly hint at) and the international, the European or American. The hotel signs boast Latin letters ("Hotel Lotus", "Seaside Hotel", "Miami Hotel") seeking to emphasize the "being abroad experience" embedded in them. But their failure in trying to lead people astray only exposes their shabbiness.
The children’s toys contain the same duplicity: a small detail always gives away the fact that they are miniature toys and not "the real thing", being only a small imitation which cannot be used in reality. The "Coca Cola" hot air balloon held down by transparent nylon strings, the shadow cast by an Air France jet is the shadow of a miniature metal model, the proportion between a red toy train and the tree next to it expose their diminutiveness. At the same time, they represent the yearning for "somewhere else". The illusion created by the photographs of the toys and words is a momentary illusion, ironic, constructed from simple materials.
The objects, the signs and the words are the major carriers of significance, the story tellers, the movers of the narrative. The characters, whose stories are told in the photographs, are passing shadows, elusive ghosts but they are very much present.