Exhibition Review: Yancey Richardson - Fragile Land
By Scarlett Davis
“The bomb had not only left the underground organs of plants intact, it had stimulated them.” John Hersey Hiroshima
Photography not only holds a record of truth, but memory. London – based Israeli artist, Ori Gersht, uses the fickle nature of memory in conjunction with the physical properties of motion in its ability to depict both the beauty in creation, as well as the inherent beauty in destruction. Fragile Land is currently on view at the Yancey Richardson Gallery, an ongoing project in which indigenous flowers of Israel engage a dialect surrounding homeland within the history and the narrative. Fragile Land incorporates the Cyclamen, Iris Atropurpurea, as well as the Madonna Lilly, which serve as symbols of the Jewish homeland, and at one time were collected to the near point of extinction. The exhibit consists of fifteen color images which were taken with an 8 X 10 camera, Polaroid film, as well as a high-resolution digital camera.
Ori Gersht has made a career of shooting objects with a bullet from a customized air rifle and then capturing the moment on camera. When shooting a still life of fruit Ori once decided to use a pomegranate instead of another object because as he said, it would explode like a grenade. The word grenade proves fitting, given the photographer strive to unveil the political conflict existing beyond the arbitrary frames of an image. For a photographer like Ori Gersht, the history is important to the work itself.
Landscapes are changed by history, photography is ephemeral and the instability is palpable. Fragile Land like much of his work evokes the Jewish tradition and the Jewish Diaspora which hinges on a kind of psyche of returning to a utopian place that never really existed. In a panel discussion for the Jewish Museum back in 2012, the photographer described his experience capturing an image of a mountain and story that was passed to him from his father during the Holocaust. There the mountains served as an anchor to memory, as well as symbols of a larger mythology absorbed in the psychology of a horrible moment in history. The over-all sensation of Fragile Land is that of suspense and intrigue; it is rare to see photography work on both of these levels.
Also included is New Orders, Evertime a series of seven images where Gersht recreates with the genre of still life paintings and incorporates objects from famous works like artists Chardin, Zurbaran, and Morandi. Otherwise not visible with the human eye, Gersht shoots the ceramic vessels with a bullet and shows the unfolding of destruction, a reference to the fragmented state of the European Union.
Fragile Land is on view from September 6th to October 20th, 2018 at the Yancey Richardson Gallery.
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