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Anna Hayat & Slava Pirsky

Existence

13 (Sat) ~ 28 (Sun) April 2023

  Israeli photographers Anna Hayat and Slava Pirsky craft their art using large-format black-and-white Polaroid photographs, taken within the studio and outside of it. These works explore trauma, self-sacrifice, and the fragility of life. These works explore trauma, self-sacrifice, and the fragility of life. Through their lens, they explore facets of Israeli society intertwined with existential challenges, born out of omnipresence of war and terror. People, landscapes, flora, and objects all find their place in their compositions. Departing from strict documentary representation, the artists construct metaphorical imagery that resonates with current events.

Behind each work lies not only an emotional impulse but also a cultural narrative. Song lyrics, specific stories, poems - different contexts are weaved together  into a unified image, carrying a multi-layered meaning. The message sealed in each work draws from various sources of art, everyday life, news and literature.

 

The exhibition features several works from different series, but they are all united by one style and theme. The main series in the exhibition is "My Personal Jesus," which incorporates references to Renaissance masterpieces. In this series, the artists skillfully blend light, vivid, and detailed aesthetics of that era with modern photography. By inviting viewers to compare and analyze images of people and objects from great masters alongside their own, they provide an opportunity to perceive and interpret the essence of the presented artworks within the context of themes and ideas of the past.

In response to the October 7th terrorist attack and its aftermath, Hayat and Pirsky present new works that complement the exhibition with a more direct approach. Scenes such as the desolate café in the  attacked kibbutz and shattered, mutilated dolls suspended in unnatural poses speak volumes about the tragedy. These pieces evoke feelings of pain and sorrow, captivating viewers' attention and prompting empathy and deep contemplation.

 

Experimenting with materials and techniques, the artists create photographs that look as if they belong to a historical archive. Traces of folding on weathered paper, uneven edges, and the distinctive grayscale tones are intended to convey the influence of time. This visual effect enhances the impression, mystifying and intriguing the viewer, inviting them to believe that these photographs were created long ago, perhaps in a pre-photographic era, or that we are viewing them from a distant future. The works become artifacts of contemporary history.

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"We lived in Jerusalem for almost 30 years, and at the end of 2019, we moved to the small town of Modiin, which is located in the center of Israel, exactly halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Before Covid, we traveled a lot and filmed all over Israel. Now, we mainly film the surrounding area and work in the studio at home. We have a daughter; she is 24 years old. Currently, she is studying music production. Five years ago, as part of her compulsory military service, she served as a system administrator at the Reim base, which was captured by Hamas terrorists on October 7th. On that day, several of her friends and colleagues died at this base and at a music festival that took place in the vicinity of Reim. On the afternoon of the 7th, she returned to the army for several months without even waiting for a draft order.

 

When someone asks why we don’t leave the country - when there is a war going on, bombs are falling, and shootings are heard - we answer with the words of the most famous Israeli song: "Ein li eretz acheret" - I don’t have another country. We really don’t have it; here are our children, our friends. And we simply don’t see any other country around where we could speak Hebrew among ourselves without fear of getting a stone in the back."

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