Image above: The Photo Album, 1979-80, Volume 1, p. 45. Courtesy of Baxter St. at CCNY
Baxter St at CCNY presented last 7th of February a solo exhibition by the artist Igael Shemtov, curated by the artist Rona Yefman, one of his former students at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, where he was Chair of the Photography, Video, and Computer Imaging Department from 1994-2000.
The Photo Album, 1979-80, Volume 1, p.88. Courtesy of Baxter St. at CCNY
The main focus of the exhibition is Shemtov’s series 'The Photo Album, 1979-80,’ a project that he intended to publish in the early 80s but that is only now being published as a limited edition artist book of two volumes. In this body of work Shemtov looks at lower‐middle‐class living environments in Israel during that period, depicting both interiors of private homes and exterior public spaces. Photographing in color with a “family album” snapshot aesthetic, he creates images that combine a sense of transience and poverty alongside his subjects’ embrace of kitsch.
The Photo Album, 1979-80, Volume 1, p. 50. Courtesy of Baxter St. at CCNY
Igael Shemtov's photography work combines personal critical expression with a documentary approach. His unique sensibility is conveyed through the very sites he chooses to photograph, and the often‐harsh reality he depicts is imparted through a deeply considered and critical point of view.
While creating The ‘Photo Album,’ Shemtov was working as a quality controller at Kodak’s main photography lab in Israel, where he saw large quantities of family snapshots. In thinking about their basic components, he realized they shared certain aesthetics qualities: a simple composition, focus on a single object (positioned at the center of the photograph, and thus endowed with meaning), and a lack of technical refinement, evident, for instance, in the presence of a harsh on camera flash or motion blur. The naïve family snapshot, therefore, served as a powerful source of inspiration, a conceptual antithesis to his previous and later work.
The Photo Album, 1979-80, Volume 1, p. 59. Courtesy of Baxter St. at CCNY.