In early 2013, The Shpilman foundation (Tel Aviv), in collaboration with KW Institute for Contemporary Art and the Schir Foundation (Berlin) announced the award of their first joint photography residency. Ilit Azoulay moved into her studio at KW in June, 2013, and used her five-month residency to develop her interest in the archeology of cities.
During her travels throughout Germany, she collected and photographed objects and architectural fragments in Berlin, Weimar, Kulmain, Regensburg, Dessau, Bamberg, Brandenburg, Xanten, Potsdam and Halle, as well as in the KW building itself.In some cases, Azoulay singled out sites undergoing preservation, while in others she examined buildings that were reconstructed precisely, brick for brick, in accordance with Germany’s restoration laws. Fascinated by the special character of German preservation laws, its archives, public and governmental institutions, its mechanisms of memory and history, the artist undertook the collection of all possible information that verifies the origin of each and every one of these objects. This meticulous gathering of information became central to the project and includes correspondence with monasteries, squat residents, taxidermy experts, plant researchers, building constructors and lawyers. The work Shifting Degrees of Certainty, is therefore composed by 85 objects she collected and photographed using a technique similar to scanning.
This technique is characteristic of Azoulay’s practice and allows the juxtaposition of multiple points of view into a single, digitally composed image. The photographs are accompanied by a sound work, making the data and the process of its collection available to the viewer, allowing him insight into the artist’s research process and the historical, personal and idiosyncratic details it uncovered.This element differs this project from previous research based projects, characteristic of Azoulay photographic oeuvre, revealing the meticulous research behind each image. What might seem as an object based work, thus uncovers itself with the audio tracks, bringing to life a process once left behind, neglecting the object and drawing questions regarding history and reality to the center of the images. Showing the story not only shifts the center from the object itself, but it shifts it from that certain perspective, and therefore that certain truth, that is also very much related to the medium. Therefore, the object is shown not in the intention to preserve its own memory, but to ask about memory, to question it, and to start an investigation about it, as Azoulay did herself. The sound tracks are available to the viewer via an audio-guide device, a traditional semi didactic museum tool, often related to the telling of facts, along with a language of research and investigation.
The audio tracks and the given information encourage the visitors to observe, to focus on small details, to stare, to wonder. But the stories told do not give the viewer a linear history line or a clear perspective. This is when they become confused, suspicious, and listen more attentively. The viewer commence their own investigation and inquiry, regarding the images, the audio tracks and even the device itself, the images shown, the transmission of knowledge and the museum. In her show in Herzeliya Museum, the objects becomes props, awaiting a situation, a home, an event. The large scale panoramas hit the viewer with a certain reality, however upon arrival to the work Shifting Degrees of Certainty, they understand that these were a mere option, that the objects created just a certain reality. With an installation which brings the aesthetics of a theater and of behind the scenes, it is to the viewer to decide what he is seeing, and to commence the happening of a reality. Therefore, the facts presented in Shifting Degrees of Certainty juxtaposed with the possibilities it opens in the panoramas Third Option, Fifth Option, Sixth Option and Seventh Option, are setting side by side the fictional and the factual, the reality and the possibility, what is seen and the imaginary. The visitor remains active in this interaction with the work, in an nonhierarchical museum installation, where all is possible. The language of documentation comes as an aid for the sense that his decision can be seen as a truth, as it draws his awareness to the ways history is structured, determined, organized, and perhaps manipulated.