Media: video and sound Formats and Durations: Ghost: projection. installation.1080x1920 pixel. 4:14 min, color, sound 25 fps Eyes on You: projection. installation. 1920x1080 pixel. 4:37 min, color, sound 25 fps Eye: projection. installation.1920x1080 pixel. 5:00 min, color, sound 25 fps
Credits: figure in Ghost - Douglas Letheren
An arena of gazes
In the 'Ghost' exhibition at the Ashdod Museum of Art (curated by Roni Cohen Binyamini and Yuval Beaton) Ran Slavin presents video installations in several centers, including the work "Eye” on the entrance floor and the work “Eyes on You” on the mezzanine floor. These works were originally created with reference to the labyrinthine structure and charged history of the "Hansen House" in Jerusalem (which was founded in the 19th century as the first shelter for lepers), and were presented at the Israel Festival in 2013.
Slavin, a video and sound artist who has recently expanded his work into the field of cinema as well, uses electronic technology to explore the interrelationship between the documentary photographic image and a processed image that undergoes digital intervention. Slavin is inspired by dreams, the worlds of fantasy and science fiction, while under the magic wand of special effects he combines in his works a gloomy futuristic aesthetic with breathtaking landscapes from the country and the world, with intense urban spaces that pass under his hands surrealistic style, and with characters who are deprived of any recognizable hallmark. As a composer and video editor in his profession, he uses post-production as a tool that allows him to create in his foreign works and visual manipulation that challenges the photographed reality.. As a composer and video editor in his profession, he uses post-production as a tool that allows him to create in his estranged works and visual manipulations that challenges the photographed reality.
His works in the exhibition all create an arena of gazes, which examine the relationship between the viewer's gaze and the work and that which is seen from it. Slavin thus stretches the limits of the viewer's ability to confront the “eyes” of his works, both deterrent and appealing, which also evoke feelings of persecution and surveillance, discomfort and apprehension. The viewer thus finds himself in what Slavin calls "confrontational theater" - an exhibitionist visibility that captures the viewer in its web while standing in the middle between the imagined and the existing.
Slavin's works in the exhibition function as a sequence of chapters from an ongoing experience, with each work sending an "arm" linking to the other. They consist of saturated scenes enchanted by the mysterious and the dark, seductive and warning of danger at the same time, and rely on aesthetic features that form part of Slavin's visual lexicon - a lexicon characterized by alienated beauty, nerve-wracking silence, intensity and utopian-dystopian appearance. The image of smoke is an example of a prominent motif in this lexicon, which for Slavin is a symbol of deception and elusiveness, as a kind of axis or umbilical line that connects the tangible to the amorphous and is used as a transition between the physical and the immaterial.
The video work "Eye", as it is called, shows a vertical and enlarged close-up of an eye which its pupil is switching from human to animal with each blink, and in it reflects a column of smoke, lacking a source of combustion, which twists and evaporates at the exit from the frame. This smoke also emerges in the “Ghost" video, as it replaces the head of the tailored figure moving in a tense, unpredictable and aggressive choreography to the sound of truncated and jarring sounds. On the upper part of the figure, two bright red dots roam, providing flashbacks of flashlights and providing laser beams that are fixed on a target, until they stop at the "natural" place of the eyes. These pair of dots are the leading symbol in his third work, "Eyes on You": like a band of creatures hiding in the dark, they coalesce and return a poignant and terrifying look, flickering under a red beam of light that scans the noise and prints the space once in a while.
Hadassah Cohen is an independent curator. She holds a Masters in Art Policy and Theory from Bezalel (2020), where she majored in Curatorial Studies. Cohen is the assistant to curators Yuval Bitton and Roni Cohen-Binyamini at the Ashdod Museum of Art