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Loud and Quiet It is early afternoon, and the city’s bathed in sunlight. A stranger enters a hotel; the reception is unstaffed, empty. The receptionist is hiding in one of the adjacent rooms, where the television is on - something about deep sea fish or a bicycle race. The guest will have to wait. He thus has some time on his hands, and that can seem wonderful or unfortunate. He casts his glance around him, considering the furniture of the lobby, the armchairs that manage to look both comfortable and dismissive at the same time. When he gets his key he takes the glass elevator up. As always during such elevator rides the guest has the feeling he is moving either too fast or too slow. He enters his room. The curtains are closed. It is dark, but the guest does not turn on the lights. Instead he sits down on the bed and looks toward the window. It is dark, but not completely dark. The curtains are slightly parted, casting light through the gap between the drapes. And although this gap remains immutably small, the light begins to grow. It flows. There is life outside, the city is noisy - the traffic, the voices of busy people. And this will only increase towards the evening; but then things get quieter. Continued »
At night there are only very few but rather loud noises, the hissing of cats, the drunks returning to their homes. Many of Yehuda Altmann’s photographs are characterized by their massive ambivalence—the simultaneity of several, often contradictory feelings. They appear cozy and uncanny at one and the same time - like the hotel room, the sliver of light appearing in the gap between the curtains, the reception, and the lobby. The view from the bottom of a well into the round hole of sky can be fraught with disconsolation. But also full of hope. The hole in the photograph is a refuge, but also the home of cruel ritual. New buildings can appear already old; even before they have been finished they offer an image of their demise - the steel girder skeleton of an emerging skyscraper. Old brick houses are better at telling stories and are thus livelier and younger than new houses. A door that has been bricked up tells stories. Stories or history. The old cities of the Orient. Seven times they have been destroyed and seven times they have been rebuilt out of the rubble, layer by layer, the Stone Age at the very bottom. And at the very top there is yet another Stone Age - the Stone Age of modernity with its asphalt and cement. Humans appear rather rarely in Yehuda Altmann’s photographs, sometimes cut off, halved. More often we see an unpeopled world or, more precisely, a world ostensibly after people, the sun alone with the earth, communicating via the exchange of heat and cold. Continued »
The images manifest forms of light displacement, the light in its patterns of passage, its indifferent sweep: the sun above an empty highway, or the view from the bottom of an empty stairwell; or, again, the calm of a hotel room and the simultaneously perceptible noise, but this time without a gap between the curtains - here there are Venetian blinds, the slats tilted partially upward, slicing the world into equally sized pieces. Yehuda Altmann’s photographs are intentionally incomplete studies. They convey the wish to be analyzed, the desire for a stationary result, and yet they are simultaneously held in an extraordinary state of suspense. Something might happen, one thinks. One’s luck can change with the flip of a coin. Twist of fate. For the better or for the worse. Yehuda Altmann’s photos bespeak a strange type of suspense. While looking at them they appear to grow like the light forcing its way through the gap in the curtains into the room. And that constitutes their quality. Among other things.
Kulturreferat, Munich « Back
Kulturreferat, Munich « Back