As part of my research for my next project, Don’t Have Nightmares 0.2, I am looking at site-specific art where the artist uses a specific location to create a body of work. Last week I went to the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne to see the Ori Gersht exhibition-Don’t Look Back’. Ori Gersht was born in Israel in 1967. He is a fine art photographer and currently works as a professor of Photography at the University for Creative Arts in Rochester, Kent. In short, this exhibition focuses in areas which have endured extreme devastation. The show is divided into three bodies of work.
White Noise documents a train journey from Krakow to Austvitz in Poland. The images echo the prisoners that were taken to the concentration camps.
Liquidation focuses the border between Ukraine and Romania. Gersht revives personal history. The imagery is based around his father surviving the holocaust as a 5 year old boy. Places where he was hiding or places he was staying during the WWII. In Gersht’s own words, ‘this work is exploring the subjective and the objective between what we know and what is seen’
Evaders follows the journey by German philosopher Walter Benjamin. This is represented by a split screen reconstructing the journey of Benjamin. Screen one using an actor walking walking along the Pyrenees (apparently fleeing from the Nazis). Screen two uses footage of still images of the Pyrenees. Ambient sounds from the location connect the still and the moving.
Many of Gersht’s images have a very painterly characteristic. The images have an intense beauty heavily contrasting to the context. Having prior knowledge about the exhibition, I assumed I would be viewing dark, sombre landscapes (thinking representationally as usual!). I was very impressed with the body of work and how the artist combines his concepts with conflict, time, history and landscape.
Ori Gersht will be talking about his work at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne on Saturday, March 28th at 3 p.m. Tickets: £6/£5