Gilad Ophir Lecture

The Israeli photographic artist Gilad Ophir gave a lecture on his work this week within the School of Art at MMU to an audience constituted by Photography and Contemporary Art History students. Gilad discussed the development of his work from the 1980s when he lived in New York and into the 1990s and the 21st century in terms of its representation of Israeli topographies. Gilad’s photographic work is usually large in format and seems to present the built environment and landscape directly in its sheer materiality. But Gilad insists that the photograph is a critical engagement with reality not a transparent mediation. The photograph constitutes a separate reality that allows for a different take on our experience of the world. It is through this concretization of the four dimensional world into a two dimensional image that we are given a means of standing back and looking again at our experience of the world. This reminded me of Gary Winogrand’s observation that he took photographs to see what things looked like in photographs.

Amongst Gilad’s examples were photographs of Israeli housing developments from his ‘Cyclopean Walls’ project from the early 1990s and photographs from the ‘Necropolis’ (city of the dead) project that he developed between 1996 and 2000 with another Israeli photographer Roi Kuper that engaged with disused military sites in Israel and the Golan Heights. Gilad noted the crossover between military and civilian architecture within Israel. In Israel the home functions like a bunker, expressing a psychological fixation with security. Gilad’s lecture was very well received and followed by a lively discussion.

For a discussion of the ‘Necropolis’ work, see the text on the Tate website by Jeremy Lewison.

And for a discussion of ‘Cyclopean Walls’ see this short text by Rona Sela.



About Art Theory and Practice

BA Contemporary Art History Manchester School of Art

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