It would appear that her destiny is the journey, or that, in her, the Jewish people’s need for place seeks to break down barriers, becoming a more encompassing desire for places.  “I suffer from circular nostalgia,” Talmor says, and recalls the way a friend describes her: “You are not from here or from there, you are from the way.”  Change is her permanence.  But if this is so, how does her language (that other essential mode of settlement) hold that desire for place—for places—and the permanent transit between them?  How does that spirit of mobility reinvent itself each time without setting aside the permanent and stable elements of the self—the belonging to her time and generation, to being a woman in the world, the mastery of and self-knowing through particular languages—Hebrew, but also etching—in short, the continuity of consciousness that unifies a person over time.

Clearly, the memory that strengthens her as much as the nomadic condition that moves her profoundly shape her creative dimension.  It is on one of her journeys, this one to India, that she encounters the immense views of snowy heights.  She says, “As an artist who has lived between two countries, Israel and Venezuela, and recently for a short period in India, my view of the political expresses itself in the following dualities.  I am interested in the opposition between distance and proximity, inside and outside, the embraceable and the unreachable, represented by alternate spaces, cohesion of scales, topographic reminiscences, and the superimposition of contradictory angles and perspectives.  My constant moving forces and enables me to view the world in these terms.”

If Talmor’s structures have paid tribute to more fragmented spatial modalities, as in her previous series Password, Aguariacuar, and Horowitz, or in sculptural installations such as The Creativity of Evil, in the period following her voyage to India, the relationship to space has expanded visibly.  If previously, tight close-ups and medium shots filled her work, now, in the face of this imposing nature, she has had to shift to dealing in immensities, to a new orientation of the gaze, the soul, technique.  Following her pilgrimage through the mountains, new needs, new modes of language, emerge: she confronts these views with wide-open takes—the long, wide shots which the vast mountains demand.

Before, her work frequently explored semi-closed spaces: the edifices in Collective Memory, which inhabit the ambiguous space between that which is raised and that which is falling into ruin, the inner workings of music boxes in Turangalila, or the uncovered manholes, those perforations in the urban fabric—which the artist registered as hollow, tiny but dangerous emptinesses—lying in wait for the pedestrian, of The Creativity of Evil.  Now, vast panoramas shape the artistic plane.  Those past interiors have given way to the shimmering mountain range, that ultimate image of outside.  But in this passage to the vastness of the world, to landscape, Talmor also would be approaching a form of transcendence: this is nature as elevation, as grandeur.  The majesty of the summits that these photographs record for the bedazzled gaze thus contrasts—spatially, but also attitudinally—with the intimate mystery of the earlier work.  Something has changed in the artist’s relation to space.

According to the Italian philosopher Paolo D’Angelo, “Landscape in the aesthetic sense is not the beautiful view, not merely the panorama. Rather it is a distinctive character of places, which therefore belongs to these same places, even if, as is obvious, these places are perceived by the observer: in a word, we come to think of landscape as the aesthetic identity of a place.”[1]

These summits do not offer only vastness, beauty.  The artist is not drawn by a touristic motivation for the perfect view.  The gaze trained for years upon close-ups and interiors has not abandoned her completely, but here it materializes in details, aspects, zones. In Ladakh then, at an elevation of five or six thousand meters, we see how varied are the snow’s reflections and textures.  For snow does not homogenize these images, and Talmor qualifies the different ways of being snow: the ways it exists, appears, disappears.  A world of surfaces comprises this imaginary, whether the watery layer is concentrated or diluted, when it lets show the looming vegetal substrate.

Even though whiteness imposes itself here (for these color photographs at times take on a black and white aesthetic), there are always areas expressed in tone, in grades.  In these regions of discolored color—pale gray, dissipated ochre, as dimensions of white—one sees hints of a green river, traces of a blue sky.  But what prevails is a certain tarnishing, a snow that is never purely snowlike because it seems contaminated, not only by other materials but also by being spacelike, in an environment where the greatest rain and extreme drought interchange qualities.  These are images of the arid but simultaneously of the wet majesty of the shrouded range.

Testimonies of an imposing immensity, of huge expanses that unfurl, these landscapes nonetheless are contained by the frame.  Some of the photographs suggest a closed universe, which at the same time projects itself.  Immensities concluded by the meeting of rivers and ridges—of the liquid and the earthly, of that which flows and that which sediments—contain a trace of light in their depths, through which the artist recognizes that this hugeness is inconclusive, unfinished, while she goes about building the structure of her open work.

Beyond
the barrier of mountains, she knows, is Pakistan.  And the unseeable evokes a broader content: again, here, partition.  “Land of high passes,”  “Little Tibet,” the locals call these ranges of Ladakh.  Behind facades of peace, the mountains hold histories of conflict: closures at the Chinese border, long ownership disputes.  Describing the wretchedness of the separation between India and Pakistan in his novel Partitions, Amit Majmudar writes: “How little we will learn, now that all we share is a border.”[2]  Ladakh’s beauty, so clearly seen in these photographs, does not weaken these other, less luminous aspects.  The mountain, inevitably for Talmor, is weighed down by this conscience, by the shadow of embattled frontiers.  The whiteness of these high passes does not make them an angelic territory.



[1] Paolo D’Angelo. Proposte per un’estetica del paesaggio. Revista Estética. N° 006, julio 2004. Universidad de Los Andes. Méridtta, Venezuela.  Translator’s note: my translation from the original.

[2] Majmudar, Amit.  Partitions.  Metropolitan Books 2011.