Tate Britain Art Now space
25 May – 26 August 2002
Art Now is a programme of exhibitions that aims to promote discussion and awareness of new art in Britain. For the latest exhibition in the series, Ori Gersht will present a new series of photographs and his first video work. In both he explores the landscape and history of his birthplace, Israel.
Journeys, both literal and metaphorical, are an important element of Ori Gersht’s art and his recent work has developed through a series of trips made to places of significant historical interest to him. The photographs presented in this exhibition were taken in the Judea desert, on the outskirts of Jerusalem. This land has been in dispute for thousands of years, and is still the cause of continuing conflict. Yet in Gersht’s photographs there is little physical trace of the historic claims to this land - the only evidence of human life is a few tyre tracks. It is this discrepancy between notions of the history of a place and its reality that fascinates the artist.
The video was shot from the Jewish quarter of Nazaret looking down on the Arabic village Iksal. The camera recorded half a second of footage every thirty seconds reducing a shooting period of eight hours to eight minutes of film. Shot overnight, the urban scene is unrecognisable, resembling a star constellation more than a cityscape. As the dawn breaks, the city gradually emerges before disappearing again, as the image is bleached out by the intensity of the rising sun.
Primarily known for his photography, Gersht received critical acclaim for his AfterWar series, 1998, taken in Sarajevo, at the end of the war in Bosnia. Initially these photographs simply look like formalist studies of brightly coloured modernist buildings, yet as the viewer looks closely the scars inflicted by war become noticeable. His White Noise series, 2000, consists of photographs taken during a visit to Poland in 1999 in the middle of winter. Shot from the train on a journey between Krakow, Auschwitz and Belzec, these semi-abstract images seem to capture the impossible – the passing of time.
Ori Gersht was born in Tel Aviv in 1967. He studied on the MA course at the Royal College of Art, London between 1993 and 1995. Recent exhibitions include White Noise, Noga Gallery of contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, and Galerie Martin Kudlek, Cologne, 2001; and Pitch, Chisenhale Gallery, 2000. In May 2002, his work will be the subject of a major solo exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel. Gersht will be exhibiting his Mass Culture series at the Andrew Mummery Gallery from 22 May - 22 June 2002, and later this year The Knowledge Factory series will be exhibited in Reality Check, a touring exhibition organised by The British Council and the Photographers Gallery. A book of Gersht’s recent work, Afterglow, will be published by August Media in collaboration with the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in May 2002, price £22, and a small book, Day by Day, will be published by Pocko, price £4.99. The artist lives and works in London.
The exhibition is curated by Katharine Stout, Curator, Tate Britain. The Art Now programme is supported by Patrons of New Art.