This exhibition at the Yossi Milo gallery is the first in the United States to feature the intriguing Israeli artist Assaf Shaham, who specializes in multidisciplinary installations. In the somewhat opposing series on display, he uses several different materials, including photography, to draw attention to the divide between perception and reality in still and moving images. Recognizing that obeying prescribed roles of artist, camera and subject, limits the possibility of representing reality, his work attempts to break down and reconfigure these roles.
In the series Writer/Storytellers, Figure and Medium, Shaham uses found photographs to highlight the limitations of representation. For Writer/Storytellers, the artist dismantled a copy of People of the 20th Century, August Sander’s monumental book of portraits categorizing German citizens by profession or social class. Shaham negates Sander’s claim to accurately portray a subject by cutting into the book’s pages, eliminating facial features or entire forms and leaving only outlines of the figures intact.
For Medium, Shaham replaces one of the standard scenic images on a box of Ilford black-and-white photo paper with a famous still from Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up, a film that explores the relationship between the photographer and subject, and questions the capacity of an image to reveal the truth.
The light-only “scanograms” from Shaham’s series Full Reflection, are made by two reciprocating office scanners. One scanner projects light and the other captures its effects. Shaham experiments with the settings of the scanners and their orientation to one another to create abstract and colorful images resembling paintings by Mondrian or Rothko with the experimental spirit of Dada.
“My investigations center, for the most part, on simple, mass-produced, easily available appliances such as calculators, cameras, watches…My assumption is that every appliance, material and mechanism predicts its user – so that the user is…already included in the instruction manual…By introducing disruptions into [this] manual, I suggest a way of rethinking its potential…”
Division of the Vision Assaf Shaham
Through 21st February 2015
Yossi Milo Gallery
245 Tenth Avenue
New York, NY 10001