ZENTROPA | Aviram Valdman
Over the past summer Aviram Valdman participated in an exhibition in Paris. The ZENTROPA photography series was created during this trip.
In this series, Valdman rummages through the ruins of the indulgent post-capitalist society, hanging in the delicate balance between nature and culture. His lens captures surreal scenes from junkyards, forest clearings and other god-forsaken spots, pushed aside to the edges of society and thus our vision, becoming futile. This current exhibition turns our glance away from local views over to visions from post-modern Europe, which is coping with the loss of it's past, as history lingers in the wings, echoing like a ghost.
There is something about the impressive photography aesthetic which persists in its attempt to erase from consciousness those deep, dark, and threatening historical abysses which are verging on being forgotten. The soft European light, the majestic wonders of nature: enormous sand dunes, vast forests and mighty mountains. It appears that in the evergoing battle between nature and culture, nature somehow prevails with the upper hand Although human progress steadily strides forwards in all directions, threatening to overimpose itself on every last glimpse of uncultivated nature, something about nature alone reflects mans insignificance, like a fragile little ant with a pink colored parasol for protection against the man made atrocities occurring around us.
In his book "Postmodernism and Consumer Society", Frederic Jameson claims that one of the major symptoms of postmodernism is the loss of a sense of the world's history, as contemporary society begins to lose grip on its past. The constant desire is to live in an everlasting present and a continuous flux of change, while destroying ancient traditions that have survived throughout the centuries, up to the point of cultural amnesia.
The images resonating from Valdman’s photographs – ruins deteriorating over time, a rusty cable car, piles of hollowed out targets, a deserted circus tent – all remnants of a grand past which no longer exists. Jacques Derrida, in his essay “Specters of Marx” challenges Francis Fukuyama’s “The End of History”. Derrida says that this notion is completely absurd, considering past traumas, persisting disputes between countries, and social genocides such as those occurring in Africa and former Yugoslavia. He claims that the ghosts from the past hover among us, haunting postmodern Europe, soaking up new meanings despite their long gone absence. The concept of “The End of History”, and the continuous present which replaces a linear heritage have turned the past into a ghost which revisits the present, and can reappear at will. Valdman's lens captures the spirits that have long past from the world and fixes them within our presence.
The title of this exhibition refers to several meanings. Firstly, Zentropa is the Swedish name for the European continent. Phonetically, the title includes the word “centro” – center in Latin, as a disintegrating memory of an empire long gone. Zentropa also refers to Lars von Triers’s film, “Europa”, which follows the journey of a tortured, haunted American in the traumatized and fragmented Europe during the years post World War II.
Curator: Natalie Smith