Miki Kratsman | Uri Gershuni | Nir Evron
Time After Time, part 2
Miki Kratsman’s work Al-Zarnug (panorama 1), 2015 features a 6.4 meter long monumental panoramic view of the unrecognised Bedouin village Al-Zarnug, about fourteen km south east of Beer Sheba. The panorama, which will be presented for the first time in Israel, was made as part of Kratsman’s ongoing project – the “Bedouin Visual Archive (temporary name)”, initiated in 2010 during the demolitions of the unrecognised Bedouin village Al Araqib. In recent years Kratsman has been vigorously researching archives, while mainly considering their organization structure (categorization, index, mapping, meta-data etc.), and the production of documents that are made specifically as archival material. It includes photographs of the architecture, portraiture of the residents, alternative infrastructure and the changing scenery of the Bedouin surroundings. The archive will be launched on-line during 2016.
Nir Evron’s series of photographs Dreyfus/Méliès (2014) has won Nir Evron the 2015 Miron Sima prize for the Visual Arts in the field of photography. The work presented at the exhibition is based on nine episodes from The Dreyfus Affair (1899), a documentary filmed by French pioneer of filmmaking Georges Méliès (1861-1938), as Dreyfus’ military retrial was underway. In Dreyfus/ Méliès, Evron projected the film and photographed all the individual frames of the film’s chosen episodes one by one, subsequently superimposing them in single photographic prints where each represents one episode. The resulting images retain some recognizable features of the scene but the action and narrative are blurred. Compressing the cinematic sequence into single frames becomes equivalent to compressing time, hence creating a visual fold in the continuum of time and image, that contains all separate instances of the narrative, yet discloses nothing. Time, although intuitively a relatively simple concept, is rather difficult to visualize or conceptualize. In Evron’s case, it becomes a philosophical meditation on the relationship of the two abstract ideas of time and image, resulting in one object-picture: the final photographic print.
Uri Gershuni’s works at the exhibition are yet another episode in his lasting journey to the history of photography and personal past. Once again Gershuni traveled to Lacock, in England, the ancestral village of inventor of photography William Fox Talbot. First, he wandered around Lacock with a digital pin-hole camera that produced a series of murky, mysterious photographs entitled “Yesterday’s Sun.” His second visit was virtual, through Google Street View alone, but Gershuni transformed the screenshots he chose into cyanotypes, blue-tinted photographs that result from an elaborate 19th century technique. Finally, instead of regarding the outside world in any way, Gershuni turned inward to his own body, imprinting photographic paper with his fingerprints, following Talbot’s ideas about the indifference of the camera, and the sun as “The Pencil of Nature.” The full series is on view at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, in Gershuni’s solo exhibition Apollo and the Chimney Sweeper (curator: Noam Gal).
“In the early 1840s, soon after he invented a way to reproduce images that would change history as a new medium – photography – the English scholar and scientist William Henry Fox Talbot contemplated one of his first photographs. The image was a simple cityscape he had captured while in Paris. Talbot wrote of it: “A whole forest of chimneys borders the horizon: for, the instrument [the camera] chronicles whatever it sees, and certainly would delineate a chimney-pot a chimney-sweeper with the same impartiality as it would the Apollo of Belvedere.” In Western culture, this ancient Roman sculpture of Apollo – god of the sun, of prophecy, and of art – symbolized all that was beautiful and perfect. The sooty chimney sweep, on the other hand, was an emblem of the impoverished urban working class that the Industrial Revolution had created.
This equation of sun and soot, sublime art and grueling labor, has been reconsidered by the artist Uri Gershuni, who was born in Israel in 1970. Gershuni traveled to Lacock, Talbot’s ancestral village in England, but not as a tourist taking in a scenic site. First, he wandered around Lacock with a pin-hole camera that produced a series of murky, mysterious photographs entitled “Yesterday’s Sun.” His second visit was virtual, through Google Street View alone, but he transformed the screenshots he chose into cyanotypes, blue-tinted photographs that result from an elaborate 19th century technique. Finally, instead of regarding the outside world in any way, Gershuni turned inward to his own body, imprinting photographic paper with his sperm or fingerprints.
Following Talbot and his ideas about the indifference of the camera, which impartially equates the lowly and the lofty, darkness and enlightenment, led Gershuni to camera-less photography. As his work progresses, the sun – which Talbot called “the pencil of Nature” – loses its power. Is this perhaps an indication of the effect the industrial age (which witnessed the invention of the camera) has had on the earth and its sunlight?”
– Text by Noam Gal from “Apollo and the Chimney Sweeper” exhibition catalogue, Israel Museum