Stills, Edinburgh, until Sun 20 Jan
PHOTOGRAPHY AND FILM
In the dark back section of the bisected Stills space, Ori Gersht’s video installation ‘The Forest’ intermittently emits the overwhelming roar of trees being felled. Meanwhile, a series of photographs entitled ‘The Clearing’ takes pride of place at the front of the gallery space. Detailing a landscape wrought with personal and historical tragedy, Gersht seeks to capture a sense of absence. His theme is heightened by the intelligent decision to record these landscapes in the photographic medium, which is itself entangled with the frustrations of loss.
A photograph is often taken in a bid to ‘capture’ something; to render it immortal. Thus, there is something of a false promise in its indexical nature. Gersht’s blurred photographs of snowy landscapes resist exactitude. As the eye struggles to find a point of restful focus upon their surface, sensible meaning slips from grasp, and yet these images continue to arrest. They contain no greater meaning, however, or truth of the past. Ungratified, we are left only with the anticipation of the next booming disruption from ‘The Forest’.
With suc recognisable iconography, and a much repeated technique, Gersht could be criticised for lacking originality. Yet, while these works are not without a subtext, their strong evocation of the immutability of loss testifies to their independence. Appropriately, this powerfully subtle exhibition portrays the South West region of Ukraine, a land haunted by the atrocities of genocide in World War II, and a place struggling with the impossibilities of memory.