Tamar Latzman talks about her most recent exhibition, Belongings, now showing at The Israeli Center for Digital Art until September 1, 2018. Curated by Udi Edelman. This project was supported by Asylum’s Small Grants Program.
In Belongings, I traced the ethnographic travels and findings of S. An-sky (author of The Dybbuk) and engaged, with the place of the Jew in the world, past and present, and, simultaneously with the complex relationship formed between the artist/researcher and that which they are studying.
Between 1912 and 1914 An-sky led an ethnographic expedition that sought to record and preserve the world of rural Jewish culture within the borders of the Russian Empire. In his perception, this world was gradually vanishing in the face of the very modernity that he himself represented. The collected materials were shown in an exhibition in Saint Petersburg, and one of the stories An-sky heard during his travels served as the source for The Dybbuk.
The exhibition presents video works in which I return to An-sky’s collection and travels. Displayed alongside them is my collection of objects and photographs that question the act of collection in general and the semi-scientific passion to capture the research subject. In an attempt to better understand An-sky’s position and the logic of his act of collection, I have mimicked his process of collection, and over the past two years I have been gathering and collecting a series of items: objects intuitively connected by my own gaze.
In Belongings I filmed my own journey in Russia in an attempt to investigate the figure of An-sky. I passed through locations in which An-sky spent time, as well as through images of the items An-sky and I collected, each in their own time.
There is a special place in the exhibition that is devoted to the series of images “Redemption”, which was created during a multiple-stage process of reproduction that includes dismantling, assembling, replicating and shifting between mediums. It is a series that examines the unconscious and haunted dimensions in An-sky’s journey, as opposed to his own identity and the culture he sought to summarize and conclude. Each of the images in the series were created in a process of recording, scanning, processing into a 3D digital file, 3D printing, photographing the printed object, and printing the photograph.
Thus, a chain of gazes is formed between me, An-sky, and the Jewish communities. An-sky creates a scientific view that also maintains a cultural-political agenda about Jewish identity. My view examines the impossibility of separating these two forms in the researcher’s position. Instead, the returning gaze of the initial research subject emerges, revealing that the spiritual and mystical are not only given to a scientific gaze, but are also contained within the research itself.