Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Decisive Moments. Elongated!

image: PULSE Archive

The Hirshhorn hosted a talk last night given by Ori Gersht. Here is a rundown of points that inform his work. As I see them.

1) His work is generally about the before, during and after of an event. He talked about how painting -a steady influence for him- was at the birth of photography still unable to capture elements of reality that the camera couldn't citing Manet's Execution Of Maximillian. Here Manet could "paint the bullets and the smoke" and figures in the process of dying; being both alive and dead. *According to him! Some would call it "undead", as noone is actually living in pictures. I am not joking*

2) The politics in the work are left implied. Though exploding flowers have a resonance with our knowledge of him being Israeli by birth, he leaves politics as such to the viewer. I think the Ambassador from Israel with his speech after the Q&A portion was there for some limited politicizing. ...Doesn't exactly jive with Mr. Gersht's earlier admission of not being a "nationalist" artist either.

3) He mentioned a few times how he was trying to overwhelm the cameras with information. That's kind of fun and curmudgeonly.

4) He freezes the flower still-lifes with nitrogen so that they shatter. Brilliant!

5) He talked about sound last which is the subject that interested me the most. There are soundtracks to each film which are such a presence and assembled with so much care. The sounds, he said, are often found or engineered, but not made from the event shown in the films. It is all post production. In that way I guess his films are scored, but I am still a little perplexed as to how that relates to the subjects of moment and simultaneity. For instance, the time of a moving image is different than the time of sound. I couldn't hear how the soundtrack related to the film in regards to this whole simultaneity he had to that point been talking about. Long story short I thought that the soundtracks were interfering conceptually with the films. And I didn't want to be "that guy" in the audience. "Blah, blah...doesn't suite me conceptually ...blah, blah."

6) He showed some installation views and images of his still photographs which are wholly beguiling and gigantic.

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