Anna Hayat, Slava Pirsky
Curator: Shani Nahmias
5 Feb — 12 March, 2011
Like an image resurfacing in a vague memory, enveloped in a crust of oblivion, Anna Hayat and Slava Pirsky’s photographs exist in an enigmatic, faceless space.
The portraits and landscapes in the exhibition intertwine almost naturally and remind the viewer of the early days of photography in the 19th century.
The first photographers experienced capturing close and familiar subjects, such as friends and family members. However the adventurous few, among them the British photographer Francis Frith, ventured to far and exotic places, like the Holy Land, with the intention of bringing its virgin landscapes to the European capitals.
Fascinatingly, Hayat and Pirsky’s modern Polaroid photographs – taken in Jerusalem and the Judean Desert area, have preserved the same feeling of a desolate, ancient landscape, as if time has stood still.
The portraits in the exhibition further enhance the feeling of illusion that the landscapes provoke in the viewer. Here too, the influences of 19th century European photography are clearly observed, however, it is not an illusion related to only time and space. The reproachful looks of some of the subjects seem to seek the restoration of a certain truth. Like a collection of holy icons they gaze from the walls, their faces spotted with the stains of time, their piercing, ascetic silence offering redemption and immortality.
However, the precision, gentleness and aesthetics exhibited in the portraits also tell us of the way Hayat and Pirsky view their subjects: with great compassion and love for the art of photography, as well as for the photographed – friends, family members and house pets, who cooperated with them by choice or circumstance.
In this regard one must mention Alex, the artists’ daughter, photographed by them almost weekly from the day she was born until today – ten years later. Here you can see a photograph of baby Alex, along with her recent photographs. Anna Hayat and Slava Pirsky’s works are created with large format cameras on Polaroid film, immediately developed into a negative and a positive image. The chemicals left on the face of the negative at the end of the development process create a map of marks and stains which changes from one negative to another. This way the controlled photographic process gives way to the random stains that add picturesque depth to the piece. Although this process damages the crisp quality of the image itself, it preserves the magic of analog photography, restoring some of the aura it had when it first appeared.