Sharon Yaari has an uncanny capacity of imbuing straight, documentary, seemingly neutral urban scenes and landscapes with political, at times almost biblical potency—and that isn’t simply the condition of anything photographed in his native Israel. At the same time, his images are permeated by stillness and quietude, untypical characteristics of that country. Yaari is one of ten photographers nominated by the same number of curators (Suzanne Landau of the Israel Museum in his case) in this year’s Silverstein Annual at Bruce Silverstein on West 24th Street.
Bus Stop, (2007), two images offering front and rear shots of an inadvertent sculptural object in the form of a lonely, defiant concrete shelter in a rural setting impart ambivalent feelings that range from formalist delight to melancholy at the corruption of nature; nostalgia or a sense of foreboding at the very enterprise of settling a land
A pair of prints, meanwhile, of the same shot of a typical Tel Aviv apartment building, Jerusalem Blvd., (2009), one in color and the other in black and white, subtly insinuates narrative commentary on a lived-in utopia. In black and white the print recalls the ubiquitous whitewash plastering of the Bauhaus “White City” while in the color version, what looked in black and white like mild decrepitude is clarified as a pattern decoration on the garden wall, adding ethnic particularization
In Road 6, (2011) a singular cloud on an otherwise blue sky set over a bleak stretch of road with its Arab and Israeli ancient towns of Ramla and Lod sign posted, recalls the line in Kings: “Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand.” It’s an image that pits nature against development, modernity against timelessness, and aridness against some possibility of relief. DAVID COHEN
The Silverstein Annual, Bruce Silverstein, January 14 to February 25, 2012 at 535 West 24th Street, between 10th and 11th avenues, New York City, (212) 627-3930