Regarding Silences (2008-2016) is the culmination of eight years of research and resulted in a series of nine photographic, panoramic works which focus on the renovation of the emblematic Brutalist building, the
Over the nine years of its renovation, Azoulay frequently visited this historical building and examined the process of a concept that changed from egalitarian ideologies into capitalist principles – a luxury hotel reserved for the rich.
This process reflects Israel's transformation from a socialist into a capitalist state and its transition from wartime to post-war. In 1974, subsequent to the Yom Kippur War, the convalescent home was temporarily used by the Israeli army. Israeli soldiers were interrogated there upon their return from Syria and Egypt, where they had been
They were asked questions such as “Did you talk under torture? Have your actions put the state at risk? Had the general order of things been compromised?” While some interrogations were straightforwardly verbal, about a third of the former prisoners of war (POWs) were taken to other sites and
that caused them to mentally live through the incident that caused the trauma during the war
The drugs not only forcibly made the soldiers live these painful memories, but they had devastating lasting effects on them until today.
Over the course of the renovation, Azoulay meticulously photographed the building’s surfaces with a macro lens and created thousands of close-up images documenting the walls exposed during the reconstruction process, revealing their various past layers. She then digitally stitched these images back together to form a large-scale high-resolution photograph, which she calls a “Photographic Plan,” presenting a multitude of angles.
Due to the lack of sufficient documentation of some of the building’s historical events, Azoulay formed a research group composed of an investigator, a linguist, a dramaturg, a psychologist writer, and the artist’s studio manager in order to create a fuller scope of view. They interviewed 43 witnesses and former POWs who had been held in the building in 1974.
Some of those interviews are presented alongside the final works. Materials the former POWs had kept or created, such as
handmade objects, etc. are featured throughout some of Azoulay’s works. The stand-in for an experience that is hard to comprehend, one that is ultimately marked by silence – the silence of captivity, secrecy, and of disengagement.
The exhibition’s walls green colour represents a vacant non-space, a way of defining the almost unimaginable repressed memories and mental spheres into which some of the former POWs have sunk over years of silence. It is a parallel reality with no familiar landscape or daily routine, a dense bubble of simulation that can be dressed in any reality or landscape, but never become it. The chroma key green also speaks to the photographic process which isolates details from the whole picture and places them within a new reality that has nothing to do with what the unaided eye would see.
No element is simply found and, in fact, none of Azoulay’s works is photography in any straightforward sense of the term. Each element in these highly constructed images, even the banalest looking piece of concrete or dust, is carefully considered and placed. In the resulting project, the material history of a site intersects with the present in multifaceted ways.
- Center of Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel, 21 February – 18 April 2019
- Bluerider Art, Taipei, Taiwan, 2 November – 29 December 2019
- Skɪz(ə)m Plato Ostrava, Ostrava, Czech Republic, 2020
- Photography Today: Distant Realities, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, 2016
- Disorder, Prix Pictet, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, California; MAXXI Museum, Rome; LUMA Westbau, Zurich; The International Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva; Kunstverein Hamburg; Fondation CAB, Brussels; The Municipal Gallery of Athens, 2015-2017
- Alterations: Built, Blended, Processed, Schmidt Centre Gallery, Florida Atlantic University, Florida, 2014