When I received a small portfolio of images from Anat Icar Shoham for a book workshop I was leading, the very first image I came across was this one, 31.489400 34.937853, above. At first I thought I was looking either an extremely large print or a photograph this is projected on entire wall. My frame of reference for these ambiguous black and white images did not re-calibrate until I starting looking at the other images in her portfolio, then it was a flash-back to my wet darkroom days. Her photographs were images of the negatives of her urban/rural landscapes, not in a positive form of her photographs.
I find this image to work on many various levels and her concept behind this re-interpretation of an urban landscape makes perfect sense, where she states “This series reflects a personal journey after the first lockdown of the pandemic, characterized by uncertainty. I found myself photographing underground water passages experiencing a frame shift of familiar landscapes. When the image is inverted there is a stronger emotional correlation to my change in perspective of the strange unfolding events.” Both her frame of reference, as well as ours, does shift with these intriguing photographs.
Even the title of her photographs appears ambiguous while yet is very specific, as she provides the Google map coordinates for the actual location of her subject. When you input her image title into maps.google.com, such as the one above, it takes the viewer to 31°29’21.8″N 34°56’16.3″E at the intersection of a roadway with a creek adjacent to the “1949 Armistice Agreement Line”. This logistical information in turn creates a further mystery as to what are we actually looking at from within this passage way.
Similar to many others like myself, Shoham’s representation of how society is turning upside down or in this case, inside-out, I think is accurately expressed in these lyrical photographs. A beautiful metaphor for how something that does not appear right, in how “(the image) is reflected in the transformation of the light sky hue into dark black tones. The water photographed in one of the images also became a black liquid and alienated from the sky. In most of the images, the grey tones are dominant. Like the passages, they are in between black and white.”
Thus we are in the midst of a print exchange and since she is located in Israel with me in California, due to shipping cost issues and timing, we are exchanging high resolution digital files for the printing of a single small open-edition print. I have printed her image, above, on the Hahnemuehle Metallic Rag that seems to extend the underlying mystery of this photographic image.
I end with her open-ended question “would the unfolding changes ever revert to the normal conditions that we once knew?”
While listening to Shoham discuss the ideas behind this series of images, I found my imagination running wild and I starting experimenting with some of my own photographs expressed as negatives of a positive photograph that could represent a world that is in turmoil. Very inspiring.
Shoham has a web-site https://www.anaticarshoham.com but does not have gallery representation at this time.