Eye Level

Tamar Karavan, Amit, 2012

June 21 – August 30, 2012

Opening reception: Thursday, June 21, 8pm

 

“In the age of the digital image and rapid communication, not a single thing that is seen by the eye ever prompts it to shut or halt. This is because the eye has become addicted to stimuli. The “Thrill” factor validates the data it absorbs, and as such, nothing else can actually excite it.

The face is not something placed or found, it is involved in a process of revelation. The face integrates itself with the visible, leaving its traces in the disclosure, but never existing in the visual realm as an object of vision. The face becomes the visible from beyond it.”

(Hagai Kenaan – “The Present Personal: Philosophy and the Hidden Face of Language – Seeing differently after Emmanuel Levinas”)

The four artists in this exhibition direct their camera lenses towards the goal of reconstituting the fresh gaze of the human, female face. They return to the depiction of the face and its features as the sole organ which defines our identity and our uniqueness, the projector of our feelings and emotions.

When we look at a face in general, or specifically stare at the face of a woman, we interpret it according to a framework of cultural constructs, a range of concepts available to us when we attach meaning to things. These are concepts that where picked up vis a vis a visual overload of images from the world of advertising, the internet, magazines, plastic surgeries and Photoshop.

We interpret the face on the screen according to our “tools”, so that it corresponds with the character we “Clothe” it with: The face of the woman is meant to be beautiful, youthful, smooth, endowed with perfect proportions. Lacking expression and immutable.

In this exhibition, the artists attempt to question this criterion which was internalized without having been processed. They conjure up a perspective which differs from one that skims over the ever changing subject-matters at the age of rapid communications – An age that utilizes an almost non-existent emotional range and immobilizes the face.

Although the faces in the exhibition appear out of a visual framework, they escape from this visual web of ideas and from the transformation of the photographed into an object whose face is flattened to the point of skin surface level, devoid of an internal universe and baring no trace of the ongoing changes that take place. Instead they strive to re-integrate the gaze of the female face into a visual space with characteristics that have a direct and intimate connection to who the woman is.

The faces presented before us in the photographs invite us to visit the hidden, particular and dynamic worlds of the photographed women.

The unveiling of the face in the artworks of the artists is charged with a meaning in itself, it reflects a desire to capture rich and complex clandestine worlds that burst through them towards us. These hidden worlds wish to tell a story that is loaded with emotions, a story that would continuously resurface if it were made possible. They ask and demand the viewers to “Unweave the tapestry of the visual”.

 

The artworks in the show:

Shirley Shor, who has been active as a new media artist in the US for over a decade, presents us with the piece “Goddess”, where she breaks-down the ideal beauty model and deals with the question of identity. Here we see photographed faces of “louis vuitton” models from a variety of nationalities and origins worldwide. In every moment one portrait overlaps with another portrait, so that a hybrid portrait is created in real time. The software developed by Shor facilitates the production of a “fusion” of portraits in real-time. In each second it occurs in a different way, so that a singular point in time that will never repeat itself in the same manner is created. Consequently, the piece “produces” questions pertaining to identity, reflecting its ever shifting nature: Identity is not fixed, mutating at every given moment. And as such, Shor’s piece demonstrates her disposition since the ideal model of beauty does not allow us to express the true nature of identity which is in a constant state of flux.

Tamar Karavan draws our attention the vast gap between the beautiful, flattened and smooth female face and that which takes place underneath it through photographs produced in the language of photojournalism and magazines. The work deals with the way in which women are required to “keep a face” or to maintain a “pleasant expression”.

Every morning, a woman wears her pretty face, whilst the raging, emotional inner chaos that stems from the inherent difficulty of being a woman remains unnoticed – her face remains unmarked by it. The pieces that involve photographing models and stage performers where stylized to look like they came out of a magazine, however, an   intentional deviation from this language was infused, producing a photograph the isn’t completely ”Proper” when observed within the context of this language.

Sasha Palit selects foreign women as his photographic subject-matter. They are mysterious women whom he meets in cafes and in public places. By looking at their faces, he is able to get a sense of the stories “folded up” inside of them. He develops a connection with them and asks them to tell him their stories as he photographs them. The act of removing their cloaks and drawing back the curtains to reveal their life circumstances is immortalized in their faces.

Avital Palaci Peleg chooses actresses (Lea Koenig, Yevgenia Dodina and Hila Vidor) as her photographic subjects, with whom she develops an empathetic relationship: Whilst she is in the process of positioning them for the photograph, she shares her fantasy with them and they, in return, partake in that fantasy. They integrate themselves into this fantasy when they become affected by the accessories, the clothing, the make-up and hairdo that she selects on their behalf. In such a way the fantasy that originates from the photographer’s inner world is woven into the emotional landscape of the actress. The photograph captures the connection between the two worlds.  The result is very different from the glamorous photographs and the poses that the actresses are used to. The actresses let their guards down and surrender themselves to the photographer’s lens. Unlike a regular photography session, the emphasis isn’t on the accentuation of their external beauty, but on other things, hidden, that are exposed during the encounter. The subtle connection that develops exposes the eye of the viewer to a different aspect, a side that is different to that which is expressed on the stage.

 

Yham Hameiri – June 2012