“Surrealism lies at the heart of the photographic enterprise: in the very creation of a duplicate world, of a reality in the second degree, narrower but more dramatic than the one perceived by natural vision.” This is how Susan Sontag described photography, before the digital age and Photoshop. Surrealism is at the basis of Liat Elbling’s photographic practice - since early on, when she wandered with her camera in peripheral “Bneh Beitcha” neighborhoods capturing hundreds of images of houses, and up to her current works, in which she herself creates the reality of the photographs on her studio worktable. Elbling constantly moves between in- and outside, the real and the imagined, documentation and representation.
The images of the single-story houses, which she documented over a decade, are characterized by their detachment and seclusion. Some of them seem like fortresses, lacking all signs of life. Her wandering and gathering was driven by a search for her own home, a search that continues still. In the series 'Untitled' (2008-2012) Elbling photographed houses around the country to which she then removed and added structural elements - digitally erasing windows and doors, adding a perfect sky and a patch of green grass, dismantling and reconstructing roofs and balconies, as if playing with toy building blocks. The result - surreal images of closed and isolated buildings - questions the nature of the house, its elements and the way it comes into being. Elbling’s engagement with the notion of house and with creating an alternative reality deepens in works of recent years. Instead of venturing outside she began building small models of the world - empty and anonymous architectural spaces and environments. These are formed from basic architectural or geometrical elements - cylinder, cube, ball, pole, arch. The relations among the models’ elements, along with the play of light and shade form a system of apertures, passages, rooms and walls. Some of the spaces are abstract, others recall a house, or what was and is no longer her childhood home. The act of photographing the transient models establishes their presences as spaces in the world and their independent existence as part of a host of images of “being.” The series 'Filling the Void' and the work, 'Within', presented in the current exhibition attest to an attempt to return and represent an actual house. This is done with formal motifs, colors and textures that resonate the large and empty space of her parent’s house and its white walls.
Elbling’s calculated and precise gestures - her documentation of reality and its manipulation, the way in which she creates an alternative reality and constructs it as an image and a coveted, well-designed artistic object - affirm her complete control of the medium as also a constant reflexive examination of its limits. One that undermines and doubts the perception of reality.
Liat Elbling (b. 1980), graduated with honors from the department of photography at Minshar School of Art (2009). She works and lives in Tel Aviv. Her works have been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Israel and abroad, including: Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2011, 2017); Haifa Museum of Art (2012); Kasher Potamkin Gallery, New York (2014); Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago (2016). She is the recipient of the Constantiner Photography Award for an Israeli Artist on behalf of Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2011). This is her first solo exhibition at Rosenfeld Gallery.