Looking at Ilia Yefimovich’s photographs is like a prolonged ride down the the countries and the West Bank roads. A long drive from South to North (or vice versa) through the center, the coast line, Jerusalem and its surrounding area. And indeed Yefimovich drives. He drives through the main and side roads, looks through his panoramic camera, attempting to convert the Israeli landscape into pastoral residues, to leave (even if just for a minute) its complexity behind.
Is it possible at all? Well, Yefimovich doesn’t take sides in his photographs and his point of view could easily be attributed to a tourist. His photographs create different narratives which change along with the panoramic view. A house. Another house. A line of houses. A tent. A mosque. A cemetery. Places a hand written note from one of the JNF’s archives could be attached to, which will tell us something real or fake about the photographed place.
All places have a name. A written history which could even be written on one of the informational signs or memorial monuments alongside the road. However, Yefimovich’s camera chooses to ignore them. Are they not relevant? Can’t or won’t the photographer address these lacking explanations which tell the heroic tales about those places, where he stands and observes.
There are a lot of carpets in the world
A digital date appears at the bottom right corner of printed photographs, as if taken from one of the first digital cameras or perhaps from one of the more “sophisticated” analogue ones. Ones which situate you, the viewer, on a personal or collective timeline.
The date fixes the photograph to one specific time frame, thus making it impossible to see the photograph as belonging to a different story or history, than the one which exists in the group of numbers and basic data from which it’s comprised.
The appearance of certain specific objects serves as a substitute for the former. Hinting the time and place as well as manipulating the photograph itself and the viewers. Objects which can trick the viewer, make him believe the history they want to tell, whether it’s true or false.
However, in Yefimovich’s photographs the object is as any other object and the place is as any other place. They are not specific. They come from various periods and have many owners. Whereas Yefimovich doesn’t try to define them, to catalogue them as belonging to a specific time, person or owner. He doesn’t reveal the story behind them. He creates various scenarios. Draws their silhouettes. Creates a line similar to what Rancière describes as “the aesthetic authority”, which permits both the testimonial and the fabricated to become part of the same historical realm which becomes in fact the historical-aesthetic act. To connect to endless forms and assemble new places, fabricated ones.
The philosopher Jacques Rancière would define these places as “a fiction which belongs to the aesthetic era, to the historical-aesthetic act.” The assertion is gone since all is a fabrication, moreover, the fabrication of the aesthetic authority has created a bond between the presentation of facts and the creation of structural forms. It obscures the bond between the logic of the facts and the logic of fiction.
Rancière claims that writing history and writing stories both belong to the same authority of truth. As if every one participates in the task of creating history. Does one need approval after “making history”? And if so, then what is that approval?
Yefimovich the photographer doesn’t ask for the approval. He doesn’t give his viewers an orientating map of the area or sketches his personal trail. Has he passed a long distance between locations? Did he walk? Or did he merely tilt his camera right and then left without even taking a single step? If it were possible to touch the terrain through a photo, one could feel the roughness of the Jerusalem stone, could touch the ocean’s water and perhaps succeed in placing North and South.
A bus standing (on Givaat Hamatos in Jerusalem). It can be placed next to the photo of a line of tin houses which are situated in an unrecognized Bedouin village on the outskirts of Maale Edumim. Anywhere. Its lack of affiliation actually defines its local and political affiliation. An echo from the past.
A piece from a different time era. A reverse travel through time. The carpet, like the chopper and all of the other mobile stationary vehicles which are displayed in a covert showcase, is a flying carpet. It is detached from where it belongs and hangs only by a thread against the background of a rocky terrain, revealing its affiliation. It is planted like a spider’s web which emerges from the sands of “Mitzpe” towards Beer-Sheva in a diagonal line that was never more political.
A research proposal which will never be researched
A photograph and another photograph and another one. Objects that fit together like a puzzle which has several possible solutions. There will never be one which will be more correct than another. Yefimovich uses a manipulative tool which creates a digital intervention.
However, this intervention doesn’t brutally attempt to change the reality or create a new one. I shall define his intervention as the use of a time machine. Going back and forth in time without any chronological order. Traveling and stopping. Stopping and observing. An auctorial narrator, who chooses to reveal and conceal details according to his judgment. Yefimovich creates a visual channeling system. An Encyclopedia which defines objects and random and unconventional places as one. Ground work is done. Field work. This searching mode is full of pathos.
It consecrates in its photos each and every one of its objects and places which don’t really demand such consecration but relish on it.
The photographer examines them in an attempt to define a place, a language, a culture. Sifts through them one by one, creates a layout for the future artwork. The landscape and the objects align in a panoramic line. It serves as a research proposal and as the creation of a narrative, but this doesn’t continue.
Does this derive from the multiple narratives which are embodied in each one of the frames of reality that the photographer created / invented, which have turned into a thick web the manipulative camera can’t untangle? And maybe this isn’t the camera’s job but rather the photographer’s. It is the re-organization or the environment which will determine whether the research failed them or did them justice.
Text by Yaelie Vishnizki Levi