Floating World | July 9 - September 10, 2016
Kohn Gallery will present its first solo exhibition with London-based artist Ori Gersht. The exhibition will feature the artist’s latest body of work, Floating World, a series of photographs that capture water reflections of ancient gardens in Buddhist Zen temples in Kyoto, Japan. On view in the adjacent galleries will be prints and a triptych video installation from the 2014 series, On Reflection.
The exhibition marks the United States debut of the Floating World series, which the artist began in 2015. In the work, Gersht seeks to reflect the natural elements and spiritual character of Kyoto’s Zen gardens, which are both real and metaphysical places. By focusing his camera on water reflections and later in post-production inverting his photographs and merging them with each other, Gersht creates new spaces that hover between material and virtual realities.
The artist has gained international recognition for his photographic and film works that explore and expose a physical reality within his images that is invisible to the naked eye. In this body of work he goes further, examining how this invisible space can bend and twist to create another view. The viewer becomes lost in the complexities of the reflection and in discerning between what is up or down, reflection or object. Gersht collapses the image and in turn fuses the virtual and material worlds. The separation between the landscape and its reflection disappears in the new series allowing the viewer to engage with this new holistic space.
On view in the adjacent galleries will be prints from Gersht’s 2014 series On Reflection, as well as a viewing room for the three-channel film from the same series. Gersht meticulously recreated with silk flowers an exact replica of Flemish painter Jan Brueghel's floral paintings from 1606, now in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum. For Gersht, Brueghel's painting and the city of Vienna embrace a sense of exuberant decadence and imperialism – a metaphor he connects to our own time. The floral replica is then situated in front of tempered mirrored glass that Gersht blows apart using electrical charges. The mirror, which by nature raises the question of what is real and what is perceived as real, is a key element in this body of work. Gersht captures the destructive event with two high-definition digital cameras placed side by side to capture simultaneously different views of the same event; one focused on the shattering glass and the other on the reflection in the mirror. The mirror reflects the Jan Brueghel painting recreation. But what is reality: is it the object, the reflection, or the image captured by the photographic lens? Gersht asks the question: is the camera the medium that records, or that creates reality? “Like the Kyoto gardens, the still life series represents my interest in using reflections and the camera lens to present new or alternate realities. As David Chandler puts it, ‘a dialectic of presence and absence’. They are both, to use Roland Barthes’s words, ‘here-now’ and ‘there-then,’ ” explains Gersht.
Born in 1967, Tel-Aviv, Israel
Lives and works in London
1993-95 MA in Photography, Royal College of Arts, London
1989-92 BA in Photography, Film & Video, University of Westminster, London