Light in the Mirror of Time, 2003-2008

in Jerusalem – where she presented unique works centered upon the technique of color solarization. Her original gaze and technical control were also given expression in "Bodies in Motion" – a solo exhibition at the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art in Haifa (1998), and in another solo exhibition, "The Dance," at the Museum of Photography in Tel Hai (1995). Inspired by East-Asian aesthetics and culture, these two latter exhibitions examined the principles of movement as given expression in Butoh and other schools of dance, and through the fusion of body and soul.

 

"Working alone in the lab is like painting with a photographic brush," Spitz once remarked. Her tremendous experience and technical expertise enable her to underscore or play down various elements, and to almost effortlessly create a range of photographic subtleties. Spitz enlists technique in the service of her ideas, and her expertise underscores the minimalist, almost abstract nature of her works. The concern with the study of form, the texture of movement, continuity, light as the source of life – all these form recurrent themes in her works. Her photographs bespeak the inseparable role of aesthetics in the creation of any artwork – to the point that beauty closes over it like a luminescent glaze.

 

The framing of the works as square compositions – Spitz chooses to work with a Hasselblad camera – enables her to cultivate a gaze shaped by both technical and thematic restrictions: her closeups, which aim to restrict and focus the representation of reality, reveal and amplify wondrous forms that were previously concealed – testifying to the layered movement of time. The contrast between objects enlarged (to three or six times their size) and between what remains hidden, which is largely created by means of lighting, leads one to wonder what is revealed and what remains hidden in the shadows. The tension between concealment and exposure also applies to the relationship between this centuries-old family heirloom,
which is imbued with personal meaning, and between its biblical contents, which are suffused with a collective cultural charge. The personal memory of the father embodied in this book is fused with the theological and historical resonances
of the Torah.

 

This series includes the work Leafing, which is composed of twelve parts. It began with the idea of documenting the flow of images created while leafing through a book – a process that unfolds in a temporal dimension. As the work evolved, the transformation of form gave rise to new images of lines and stripes that are reminiscent of topographical mountain outlines. The abstract images capture the brittleness of the old pages, as well as their unchanging contents. The lighting amplifies the passages between dark and bright areas, and between the topographical layers of an imaginary landscape – creating abstract, amorphous compositions that endow the viewer with a sense of journeying into faraway realms.

By: Irit Levin     From the book "Light | Space | Time"

A 300-year-old Torah book that has been clearly marked by the passage of time, and which was passed on from one generation to the next in Drora Spitz's family, is at the center of the photographic series " Light in the Mirror of Time" (2003–2008). This series examines the affinity between the individual and the collective and between different fragments along the continuum of time, as well as the contrast between the power of ancient spiritual writings and the fragility of dissolving matter. These black-and-white photographs are focused on a single object, which the artist examines while vacillating constantly between figuration and abstraction; she studies this object through a restrictive prism shaped by two narratives: the history of the Torah book and the history of the artist's family.

 

This series of photographs produces a movement between the charged narrative of the ancient Torah book, the journey in search of the vestiges of collective time, and the need to give expression to the deep longing for a personal, private and familial site o memory. Using techniques of concealment and exposure, the photographs explore a labyrinth of light and shadow and capture the fragility of the ephemeral object, contrasting it with the stability of its spiritual contents. The transformation of the agnostic statement implicit to the definition of sanctity – "Do not make any idols" – into a pictorial object makes one wonder whether ephemerality is not inherent to the concept of eternity.

 

Drora Spitz's photographs shape a subjective set of images by means of different photographic and lighting techniques: the black-and-white palette defines compositions charged with contrasts between light and shadow, the bright white areas radiate a sense of both purity and absence, and the mysterious black areas seem to harbor a secret. The objects captured by the lens appear to transcend the dimensions of time and space. Spitz's feelings towards her beloved father, who owned this book, are melded into the photographs, fusing the world of personal emotions with a set of meticulously observed aesthetic rules.

 

At times, the presence of an image in space is delineated by means of a few outlines that flatten it out, while in other instances the image is imbued with a material, plastic quality, so that it appears almost three dimensional. The doubling of two images on a single negative enables stasis and movement, sharp and unfocused images, to exist harmoniously side by side. The light emanating from the book, the black background that enhances the presence of the object, the ornamented cover – all these endow the work with dramatic power, infusing it with an almost mystical quality.

 

Drora Spitz has exhibited her work at numerous local and international venues. During her years as the director of the photography lab at the Technion's School of Architecture, she acquired remarkable expertise, which was already given expression in her 1972 solo exhibition at the Israel Museum

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   |   By LemonJuice.Studio