Not Just – The Exhibition
Family Meal – The Book
A red-roofed neighborhood is seen through a transparent embroidered curtain. A gaze in two layers. The double gaze is at the root of Nurit Yarden’s work. Three series hang on the walls, and a few ‘intermezzi’; all deal with the quotidian, with the marginal, with an everyday life environment. The self-evident association is to an American tradition of photography that includes photographers such as William Eggleston. Nurit Yarden uses poetics similarly, seeking to depict a culture by turning her gaze on the marginal and neglected. In her case, however, it is only ostensibly that the gaze turns outwards, to the world, to urban live fences or to the tiny weeds that survive in pavement cracks. Her other gaze, while holding on to an external image, turns inwards. Whatever the eye perceives, whatever the camera catches, is a distilled projection of an inner world inundated with experience.
A persistent weed springing up from a crack between a whitewashed wall and trampled paving tiles gets, with a series of others like it, the title Not Just. To one degree or another, the titles endow the images with an ironic dimension. The word is just as meaningful in Yarden’s work as the image. It contrasts the image with other issues, contradicts it, or creates ambiguity. Live fences are typical of Tel Aviv, a sign of urban nature since the days when the city’s founders thought of it as a city of gardens. Having bravely survived a millennium of soot and dust, a Live Fence is yet another greenish thing of which no one takes notice. Does it actually fence anything in or out? Is it in fact ‘live’? The thing which is called a fence is, too, an outward expression of something internal that has to do with the memories and life experience of the person observing it.
The irony becomes manifest in the third series, Buy Me. Is the speaker the subject of the photograph, the photograph itself, or the photographer displaying it? The title very gently raises the question of photography as commodity and as work that is supposed to provide its maker with a living. Is it in keeping with the collector’s taste? Perhaps a series of Sabra cactuses in an Israeli landscape – different margins, of the political kind – would sell better?
The juxtaposition between photograph and text shifts from the ironic to the lyrical when the word “Waiting” is attached to a viewing hole in a white door. It is no longer just a door; two entities immediately appear on both sides of it: those who wait, and those who are awaited. One word creates two unknown factors, as well as tension between what is expected and what is there. Forever dual: whole and fractured, revealed and concealed.
The dichotomy between the whole and the fractured, manifested in Yarden’s work throughout the years, is also evident in her book. The same subtle humor is to be found in the photographs and texts that combine a sense of the topical with childhood experiences. A yellowing recipe represents an experience that combines sweetness and pain, culinary pleasures and hurts. Whole on the surface, fractured beneath it. One of the clearest expressions of Nurit Yarden’s double vision is her text published in the book:
Text by Tali Cohen Garbuz