Double Reflections of the Ancient World by Israeli Photographer Ori Gersht
Since November 2015, photographer and video artist Ori Gersht has immersed himself in the Zen Buddhist temples and ancient gardens of Kyoto. The fruits of this immersion—otherworldly, confounding, lush large-scale photographs—are currently on view in “Floating World” at Ben Brown Fine Arts in London.
The Israeli-born artist, who now works from London, is known for landscapes and still lifes imbued with suggestion and meaning. He seeks places and things that have been marked by violence and trauma or a sense of time and history.
“I’m interested in landscape voids; those voids resonate some sort of presence,” he once said. “If you go to a place where you know something significant happened, that affects your experience. There is something about the landscape, as if the space is radiating something.”
Auschwitz, Bosnia, Ukraine, and Hiroshima have appeared in his haunting, seductive works. For still lifes, he chooses objects with symbolic meaning, like pomegranates, whose seeds are said to evoke the Torah’s many commandments. This current series concentrates on time and the change it brings, particularly in the contemporary presence of ancient gardens and temples.
If it’s difficult to find your bearings in Gersht’s garden landscapes, that’s because these are not straightforward but, rather, highly manipulated perspectives. The artist photographed the reflections of gardens and temples in nearby ponds, then removed the sources of the reflections and replaced them with a second, doubled image of the same reflection, thereby creating images that seem familiar yet awry.
In Floating World, Floating Bridge (2016), he combines mirrored images of the reflection of a bridge gracefully arching over water à la Monet. By aligning one image atop the other, the “real” view seems smeared or, in keeping with the times, disrupted by glitches. For Gersht, these peaceful gardens stand at a remove from our image- and technology-saturated world, though even they can’t escape it.
“Ori Gersht: Floating World” is on view at Ben Brown Fine Arts, London, May 11–Jun. 16, 2016.