In Another Place
‘In Another Place’
In Another Place’ is a body of work linking landscape and memory, whilst visiting trauma sites of what used to be, until 1948, Arab villages in Palestine. It presents a longing for a-place-of-being which no longer exists; a home which is by now eroded by layers of contradicting historical narratives .
It took me 45 years (17 years of which living in a different country) to suddenly be confronted by the realism that a substantial amount of Israeli homes are established on the grounds of what used to be, until 1948, Arab villages. 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 a past of their own. Their ‘native’ ways were but a mere simulation to a past of the real, rightful, owners of the place we now all shared. After all, this was our promised land, not theirs, and I was part of those privileged chosen people – always aware of our history of constantly fighting to maintain these ancient divine rights and the desire to exist as a nation. There was never a real allowance for an eye-level consideration of ‘the other’ occupants of the land, or indeed, an empathetic view of their own ties to that very same land, and the meaning these held for them. The signs and traces I have encountered during my travelling, then, to what used to be other people’s home, where never explored beyond a romantic nostalgia.
Nowadays, any clues to a Palestinian past, in these vacant places I visit, are barely etched into a landscape which was encouraged to camouflage tragedies of its modern history. In Another Place’ is a self reflective examination of a place – holding in mind its untold history.
The chemical treatment I use in this body of work sculpts physical traces, and layers of depth, into the photographic image – offering a suggestion of past time, whilst invoking acts of remembering. The uncanny experience underlying the illusive time-frame of the photographic image, is juxtaposed with a real sense of the photographic matter, and the notion of an organic passage of time through its layers. This is an attempt to create a metaphor for a ‘memory landscape’.
My photography is about ritualizing ways of contemplative seeing. It is about responding to states of presence – resonating inner and outer landscapes whilst engaged in a ‘visual poetry’. Although, initially, involving a controlled intention – the creative process itself is motivated by reacting at ‘the decisive moment ‘ whilst remaining at a state of observation. At that moment, the camera is no longer separating the world from the photographer. I call this state a ‘decisive observation’.
‘….[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)
Approaching Sheikh Ali (‘In Another Place’)
My photography is about responding to states of presence – linking between inner and outer landscapes.
The instant of image-capture is, therefore, reviewed in terms of both a psychological and a spiritual peaks.
Although, initially, involving a controlled intention – the creative process itself is motivated by reacting at ‘the decisive moment ‘ whilst remaining at a state of observation. At that moment, the camera is no longer separating the world from the photographer. I call this state a decisive observation.
In contrast to the cathartic experience of image capture, the photo-chemical treatment applied to the film negative, later on, involves very little control. Yet, it produces the appearance of an additional visual surface – as if presenting a physical testimony to the passage of time, and providing an appearance to the unseen. Its physicality is an interruption to the notion of the eternal present-time in photographs (Barth’s ‘now-then’). The surface blemishes and traces appear to be etched into what could be experienced as the topology of one’s memory. Their relation to the captured image provides a translucent curtain – a gateway into a different metaphorical dimension, also offering a contemplative look at the rising unconscious.
Simsim (‘In Another Place’)
December 2009 – I am standing on the ground of what used to be Simsim – until 13th May 1948, a Palestinian village with 1500 residents.
In the far distance, beyond the fence which surrounds the vast site, I can see a farmer ploughing one of the nearby Kibbutz’s fields. The day draws to its end – even the cattle are nowhere to be seen. I am on my own amongst this very traumatic, yet beautiful, landscape.
I am surrounded by nature, washed by the golden light of a late afternoon sun aiming west. Amongst these peaceful grounds I can still recognize the traces of what used to be the village. One could identify the remains of a Palestinian village by the remained fruit trees, the prickly pear bushes and the eucalyptus trees which were later planted by the Israelis as part of their attempts to reclaim the land. I notice some dry walls, some remains of old buildings and a well. But mainly I experience the void.
In 1948, Israeli military forces expelled the people of Simsim to the Gaza Strip. Kibbutz Gvar’am, which was established near Simsim in 1942, later took over the village’s lands. ‘…What had once been the centre of the village, including the remains of about 345 buildings, a desecrated cemetery, dry wells and a destroyed mosque, is currently fenced off as the “Kurkar Gevar’am Nature Reserve” and used for the kibbutz cattle…’ [http://www.palestineremembered.com/Gaza/Simsim/Story13019.html].
There is not even a sign to commemorate the memory of the life this place had and its native inhabitants. The memory of all that was then is eradicated from the ‘here-now’.