The Photo Album, 1979-80
Curated by Rona Yefman
Opening Reception: February 7th | 6-8 pm
Artist Talk: February 12th | 7 pm
Exhibition: February 7 – 28, 2015
Baxter St at CCNY is pleased to present a solo exhibition by the artist Igael Shemtov, curated by the artist Rona Yefman, one of his former students at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, where he was Chair of the Photography, Video, and Computer Imaging Department from 1994-2000.
The main focus of the exhibition is Shemtov’s series ‘The Photo Album, 1979-80,’ a project that he intended to publish in the early 80s but that is only now being published as a limited edition artist book of two volumes. In this body of work Shemtov looks at lower-middle-class living environments in Israel during that period, depicting both interiors of private homes and exterior public spaces. Photographing in color with a “family album” snapshot aesthetic; he creates images that combine a sense of transience and poverty alongside his subjects’ embrace of kitsch.
The exhibition affords a rare opportunity to see the work of this influential teacher, many of whose students have achieved notability, including Adi Ness, Yael Bartana, Elinor Carucci, David Adika, Ilit Azulay, Sharon Balaban, Nir Evron, Dor Guez, Yefman herself, and many more.
Igael Shemtov’s photography work combines personal critical expression with a documentary approach. His unique sensibility is conveyed through the very sites he chooses to photograph, and the often-harsh reality he depicts is imparted through a deeply considered and critical point of view.
While creating The ‘Photo Album,’ Shemtov was working as a quality controller at Kodak’s main photography lab in Israel, where he saw large quantities of family snapshots. In thinking about their basic components, he realized they shared certain aesthetics qualities: a simple composition, focus on a single object (positioned at the center of the photograph, and thus endowed with meaning), and a lack of technical refinement, evident, for instance, in the presence of a harsh on-camera flash or motion blur. The naïve family snapshot, therefore, served as a powerful source of inspiration, a conceptual antithesis to his previous and later work.
For this show, Shemtov and Yefman have selected approximately 70 photographs from the series, of which only 16 were previously exhibited at the Open Museum of Photography Tel-Hai Industrial Park, in Israel in 2009.
The artist and curator will be present at the opening night reception and will participate in an artist talk at the gallery in Baxter St at CCNY’s Conversations Series, the exact date to be announced.
Igael Shemtov was born in Israel in 1952, and lives and works in Binyamina, Israel. Between 1975-1983 he studied art and photography in Israel. From 1983-1985 he pursued his MFA at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. He has taught at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem since 1979. Between 1994-2000 he was Chair of the Photography, Video and Digital Imaging Department at Bezalel. He has also taught at other colleges and universities in Israel, including Hamidrasha School of Art, Beit Berl Collage, Haifa University, Wizo Haifa Academy of Design and Education, Camera Obscura School of Art, Tel Aviv, and Musrara School of Art, Jerusalem. Since 1978, he has had solo shows in museums and art spaces in Israel and participated in dozens of group shows in Europe, Israel and the U.S. His work is in such museum collections in Israel as The Tel Aviv Museum of Art; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Haifa Museum of Art; and The Open Museum of Photography, Tel-Hai Industrial Park as well as private collections in Israel and abroad.
Rona Yefman received a BFA from Belzalel Academy, Jerusalem in 1999, and completed postgraduate studies at Bezalel Academy, Tel Aviv, in 2003. She received her MFA from Columbia University in 2009. Her work explores social, political and personal issues of identity through portraiture in context, working extensively with certain individuals to portray their heightened, radical personas. She is based in New York, and since 1999, has been exhibiting her work in Israel, Europe and in the U.S. where she currently teaches in the graduate program of Columbia University School of the Arts.
The exhibition is part of a series of guest-curated exhibitions at Baxter St at CCNY resulting from an open call for proposals, and is made possible in part by generous support from public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs in New York, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.