Ghosts of place: displacement and identity in the work of Ori Gersht

Stara, Alexandra (2015) Ghosts of place: displacement and identity in the work of Ori Gersht. In: Pultz Moslund, Sten , Ring Petersen, Anne and Schramm, Moritz, (eds.) The culture of migration: politics, aesthetics and histories. London, U.K. : I. B. Tauris. pp. 257-269. ISBN 9781784533106

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Artist Ori Gersht (b.1967, Israel) has been engaged consistently with themes of displacement and forced migration in recent history, and ensuing issues of memory and identity. Working with photography and film, Gersht’s strategy is to address these themes obliquely, mostly without depicting human action, but focusing instead on its aftermath and emotional residues. The places in Gersht’s images are simultaneously palpably real and haunted with indeterminacy and the weight of human suffering. Sarajevo in AferWars (1999), a train journey from Krakow to Auschwitz in White Noise (2001), Gaza/Israel in Ghost (2003), the Ukraine in The Clearing (2006) are some of the sites where Gersht seeks loss as a presence, and wrestles with the paradoxical quest for identity at the sites of its uprooting. Expanding on his earlier work, Gersht has more recently included people in two of his films addressing similar issues: a fictionalised Walter Benjamin on his fatal journey on the Lister Route in Evaders (2009), and a real-life survivor of Auschwitz in Will You Dance For Me? (2011), maintaining, however, the investment in abstraction and ellipsis, which have characterised his work from the beginning. Gersht’s images have a dream like quality, which is haunting and engaging even as it distances the reality of the subject. This indirect reference to events, embedded in the horizon of unpopulated landscapes, occasionally juxtaposed by close-ups of unsituated figures, is resonant with metaphor and metaphysical allusion. The device of distancing is a crucial hinge in a body of work that eschews rhetoric and invests, instead, in the power of poetry to carry the weight of meaning and affect. This paper proposes to discuss the work of Ori Gersht drawing from phenomenology and hermeneutics in order to address the inherent ambiguity in the idea of displaced identity, the dialectic between imagination and memory, and the role of art in the (re)construction of place.

Item Type: Book Section
Physical Location: This book is held in stock at Kingston University Library.
Research Area: Architecture and the built environment
History of art, architecture and design
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (until 2017) > School of Architecture and Landscape
Depositing User: Alexandra Stara
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2015 16:45
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2018 09:03

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