In Another Place
‘In Another Place’
‘‘In Another Place’ links landscape and memory in the context of appropriation, occupation and a supressed history – visiting trauma sites of what used to be, until 1948, the home to Palestinian communities. Most of the places I photograph were vacated by force just before, and during, the Israeli war of independence. Their occupants were never allowed back – not even when the circumstances which lead to their expulsion, changed. Typically, there are no on-site indications in these vaccant locations, or any attempts by the state to commemorate the related Palestinian past.
‘In Another Place’ also presents a longing for a-place-of-being, a multi-layered homeland, which, if ever existed, has been eroded by waves of contradicting historical narratives. It is an examination of a controlled landscape – photographing, whilst holding in mind its untold history, and self reflecting upon my own relationship with the place and the notion of ‘home’.
Ever since childhood I have been seduced by the Israeli countryside – its breath taking nature, and its ancient history. The traditional Palestinian settlements dotted amongst its landscape, and the farmland terrain surrounding them, perfectly matched a Judeo-Christian romantic perception I somehow adopted of ‘the Holy Land’ and its ‘natives’ – my ancestors. It was as if Palestinians never had their own past links to this place. Their ‘native’ traditional ways were but a mere simulation to a greater past of our forefathers – the real, rightful, owners of the place. After all, this was ‘the promised land’. We were the privilaged ‘chosen people’ – always aware of our traumatic Jewish history, our ancient divine rights and the modern struggle to protect our desire to exist as a nation. We were tought to view ‘the other’ via screens of fueled nationalism, and distrust. There was never a real allowance for an eye-level consideration of other occupants of the land we shared, or indeed, an empathetic view of their own ties to that very same place, or the meaning these held for them. Any signs and traces I have encountered during my travelling, then, to what used to be other people’s home, where never explored beyond being a set of pointers to an adopted romantic nostalgia – reclaiming our own ancient history through ‘the other’ – always maintaining a claim for the moral high ground.
It took me 45 years (17 years of which living in a different country) to suddenly be confronted by the realism that a substantial volume of Israeli homes are established on the grounds of what used to be, until 1948, other people’s homes. Nowadays, any clues to a Palestinian past, in these seamingly deserted places I visit, and photograph, are barely etched into a landscape which was encouraged to camouflage tragedies of its modern history.
‘In Another Place’ is an examination of a landscape – holding in mind its untold history. It is a visual enquiry into the void left as the aftermath to a trauma, which in itself only exists in the memory of the people whose homes this landscape once was. It is about meeting an imaginary ‘other’ in these places of pain and neglect – an attempt to break loose from Colonialist attitudes and versions of my own history whilst reflecting on cultural identity, nationalism and ideology.
The chemical treatment I use in this body of work sculpts physical traces, layered into the photographic image – invoking mind wondering and acts of remembering. The underlying uncanny experience and the paradox of the photographic time, are juxtaposed with a real sense of the photographic matter – a notion of an organic passage of time through layers of physical matter (a ‘memory landscape’ which is typically an absent feature of reproductive media).
‘….[In Another Place] selected by Susan Derges…’
‘…There is something intriguing about the physicality of Aviv Yaron’s photographs. Even from a first glance at the jpegs, I liked his energetic mark-making activity. It’s echoing or fusing with deserted landscape imagery suggested to me an internal processing or reworking of something fractured or pressing to be reformed, that had happened in the external world.
Without reading his notes I found myself thinking about memory, loss and residual traces of past events.
This might be a projection of the ways I use the activity of making to connect with places that hold significance, memory, and a desire for belonging for me. But there seems to be something in common, in terms of landscapes that are repeatedly encountered, worked with and processed. Also in terms of an impulse to make visible in the work the scratches, blemishes and surface details that communicate a physical struggle to arrive at a true account of something that is more than just an observed record – One that uses layers and imperfections to represent the layering of inner content onto the observed.
It’s exciting to come across work of a completely different subject-matter, that none the less resonates, makes sense and feels familiar and whether or not projection is involved, it indicates how the metaphors that Aviv uses extend beyond the personal to speak of more universal themes of exile and belonging.
Getting to understand about the relationship of Aviv’s work to Israel, Palestine and his own history is very moving. Somehow he has found a way to articulate the complexity of relationships involved in the places he has revisited there and to allow us to feel them speaking powerfully and poetically through both images and time.
I like the way small details in the foreground like weeds, barbed wire, scratches on the surface imply a kind of threshold behind which lies the land and in front of which stands or lies the person giving form to the place through their presence and attention. In the backgrounds too there’s a kind of texture or gestural echoing of the forms of the landscape that mean it also has been mediated by the awareness of the maker. It brings you into a more visceral relationship to place, atmosphere and artist…’ Susan Derges (Uncertain States: Open Call 2016)