Curator: Yifat Ashkenazi
The star of the exhibition is the “dark knight” of the animal kingdom: the bat. The bat is a flying mammal that is perceived as a dark and frightening creature mostly due to its appearance and nocturnal life. In the past months, with stay-at-home orders imposed throughout the world, we have come to notice animals taking over our outside space. At night, in our absence, they can do as they please, unafraid that we might see them and expose their secrets.
This exhibition presents a new series of photographs by Yuval Chen, a press photographer and artist. This photography project, like other projects by Yuval, examines the ambivalent relationship between man and his environment – shifting between an egoistic position of exploitation and destruction and the wish to explore and preserve the natural habitat. Recent years have revealed the ecological advantages of bats: they disseminate flower and tree seeds, creating new forests. They also have a natural pest-control ability: they can eliminate pests, save plants, and thereby assist farmers.
This photograph series was created in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, which allegedly originated in bats. It calls on us to directly explore our relationship with nature, suggesting we observe it from several different angles. The series, which reflects a complex existential state, suggests that we look within ourselves and rediscover and learn to value the wider world, which we share with other creatures. To convey the anxiety caused by the pandemic, the artist lent the photographs a grainy look, creating a sense of pollution and disturbance. The works undermine the concept of time, suggesting a “meta-reality” without depicting any clear, specific moment.
Yuval Chen is a photographer and artist, researching for three decades the codes and narrative of the Israeli visual realm. In his professional career, Chen has published countless photographs in the Israeli media, serving as a magazine and editorial photographer for newspapers. While documenting, he also questions and challenges the narrative he perpetuates in the photos.
His latest body of work includes a quest for images, an archive of collective memory, confronting the dilemmas presented in Israeli life. The photos emphasize Israel’s complicated relationship between time, place, and space. Chen interweaves fantasy and realism and creates a scenario, in which, the collective sphere meets personal perception, under circumstances of violence, conflict, and cruelty. However, Chen does not let go of preserving his knowledge and memory in search of roots, continuation, and essence.
As an editorial photographer, continually moving through private and public spaces, and presenting his work in the artificial platform of communications, Chen is aware of the Israeli Ethos, and has a complex connection to it. His photography is a pure yearning for landscapes, such as trees and shadows, which allow even a glimpse of a comforting, soothing, relaxing moment, that gives life.