The View from Here | Three Photographers
Three bodies of work that choose to deal with the immediate environment, and with the attempt to look at what is so close that it seems to escape the gaze. The attempt fails, as the photograph reveals how little the immediate environment is controllable by its inhabitants, and how much it contains spyholes onto semi-concealed and insufficiently known sites. Three photographers who photograph what is close to them, from inside the home or from its immediate surroundings. It is not documentary photography, since it does not claim any documentary authority, or adopt any rule or method. It is coincidental yet persistent photography: it insists on deciphering something, on pointing to something which is taking shape right here, under our very noses. Photography whose critical stance is neither frontal nor obvious, and which, even when concealing an element of protest, gets deceptively carried away with the visual bounty. It is an exhibition without the clear presence of human beings, and in which one cannot recognize a master-plan or the idea of a specific place; yet it looks at a world which is scarred and infected with traces of desires, disappointments, negligence and aggression. It is an exhibition about ugliness and about beauty, and about what masquerades as beauty and slyly plays with it. An exhibition about an attempt to tame the outside, to domesticate it and miniaturize it inwards. An exhibition about an excess growth of buildings and an illusive miniaturization of Eros.
Nurit Yarden photographs the streets near her home, around Tel Aviv’s “Hovevei Zion” street: Bugrashov, Allenby, Pinsker and their various hidden arteries, which bring with them a polyphonic encounter of details, textures, objects and buildings. “Within Walking Distance”, Yarden calls this series of photographs, which required no plane ticket or tour guide. Her city is broken into peripheral details, repetitive movements, blatant colourfulness, chaotic images, which grasp the concept of ‘order’ in a flexible and organic way; one of the routes channelling Yarden’s photography is the trail of business cards of call girls and massage parlours attached to the windscreens of the cars parked on Tel Aviv’s streets. Placed under the windscreen wiper like an extra car-accessory, the card points to a culture that has miniaturized desire to an advertising image and has turned sexual fantasy into daily routine. The information regime and the data capsule compress the perverse and the tragic into a tradable dosage. The feminist gaze, protesting against the objectification of the feminine body, is not aggressive or in your face – it reverberates behind the spurious glamour of the image reflected in the car window.
Rami Tsalka repeatedly photographs the barrier of buildings gradually being erected around his parents’ house, on Yehoash street in Tel Aviv, near the beach. After an eight-year campaign against the municipal authorities, a multi-storey hotel has sprung up opposite the house’s balcony, obstructing the view of the sea and the sunset. After all, the municipality did not promise each of its denizens a magnificent sunset in their window. Tsalka photographed the narrow space between the building on Yehoash street and the beach opposite – a space which despite the great architectonic density has assimilated the additional building with obedient silence. Tsalka returns again and again to his point of departure – the balcony of the home in which he grew up as a child and from which he experienced the landscapes of Mediterranean Tel Aviv. The roofs of the adjacent houses are his natural landscape and the improvised shacks are his familiar architecture. If he moves – he moves to the window of his private room in the house, from which he photographed – in a sharp downward angle – the building’s backyard ("Ramifications", 2003). The ill-assorted collection of walls, shutters and windows, the different functionality of the buildings, private apartments exposed through lit windows, and above them all – the violent and oppressive presence of the hotel buildings in the area infuse Tsalka’s photographs with a sense of chaos and power.
In the photograph “Invitation to the Dance 1”, the builders are moving on the poured concrete surface of the roof, which floats between the sea and the sky, creating a kind of choreography in mid-air: their distribution in the space, their movement gestures of pouring and working, and the iron spikes shooting upwards – evoke an almost heroic metaphor of building and progress – were it not for the failure of the bureaucratic struggle which is made present through them. The photograph alludes to a surrealist situation and unwittingly evokes an ironic take on the passion for construction and expansion.
Nitsan Makover’s photographs contend with the ‘open space shock’ and with the clichés of the romantic landscape spreading before her in her house in Binyamina: a winding “Van-Goghian” trail, a rain-soaked leafy thicket, a muddy and wild road… Makover relates to the landscape around her by curbing the romantic overflow and through processes of domestication and taming: she ‘plants’ landscape photographs taken in the vicinity of the house in interior photographs and tries to produce a more protected and softened encounter between the outside and the inside. Makover’s photography shows no human presence either, and the house is empty of its residents. But its interior – crammed with objects and furniture, charged with a residential civilization – produces within itself the bubbles of the outside, and swallows them in. Makover refrains from glorifying nature, and does not give in to the rural landscape. The domestic disorder, the arrangement of the objects, the blankets, the clothes – reflect a saturated and soft life against the downpour of rains and mud.