Israel’s fields and orchards form the backdrop to photographer Tamar Shalit-Avni’s latest exhibition, Ba-Pardes (In the Orchard), which opened this week at the Artists House in Tel Aviv.
The series of 16 photographs and video works depicts cultivated agricultural spaces inhabited by man — or in this case, woman.
Each image centers around a female figure whose presence — despite being tiny in size — draws the eye inwards.
According to exhibition curator Naomi Leshem, “Tamar Shalit-Avni’s photographs suffuse us with a sense of mystery, enigma, and secrecy as they raise questions that may not necessarily have or demand an answer. Who are the women portrayed, how did they get there, what is their significance, and what is their purpose? The women tread across agricultural fields – some fertile and flourishing while others are deserted and growing wild.
“Despite their disproportionate scale relative to the setting, each of the women constitutes an important part of it.
“The women’s power stems from their individuality. In spite of their relatively small size within the frame, their body language and positioning reveal something about them and their relationship with their surroundings.”
“While staging the scenes, Shalit-Avni engages in a covert dialogue with the subjects of her photographs. Yet, it appears to be a one – sided conversation, as though they are simply wandering through the pictorial space, unaware of the layers of meaning intended by the photographer.”
“A wide range of ages are represented – from 12 to 80 and over. The women were selected as a result of the artist’s quest for figures who can relate to her and to the landscapes she photographs, in terms of both personality and physical attributes.”
“The photographed landscape is akin to that of the artist’s childhood as well as the one where she currently resides. She has been shooting the fields and orchards – from inside and out – for years. Shalit-Avni follows the fields and their rotating crops as well as the perennial orchards, capturing the seasonal blossoming and bearing of fruit.”
“The photographs of the orchard serve as a key to deciphering the exhibition – images whose power lies in the fact that the weight embodied by their light and color is equivalent to that of the troubling gloominess that seems to conceal a secret , as though drawn directly from the Talmudic legend of the Pardes.”
Shalit-Avni has worked as a photojournalist and a lecturer at the Meimad Art College, Sapir College and the Camera Obscura art school. In addition, she is also one of the creators of a workshop at the Givat Haviva Art Center that uses photography to bridge between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
Ba-Pardes opens on January 30, 2014 and runs through February 22, 2014 at the Artists House, 8 Alharizi Street Tel Aviv. A gallery Ttalk will be held on February 15, 2014 at 12:00