Helsingforser Platz 1, 10243 Berlin
Opening: 5th March 2009 at 7.00 p.m.
6.3.09 – 30.4.09
The exhibition presents three series of photographs:
Beijing – An Image About to Change. 2007
In the very heart of Beijing, in the midst of dark alleys, ancient traditional quarters called hutongs have been situated there for hundreds of years. They are made up of little houses built around inner courtyards that are shared by several families in cramped living conditions. Most of these hutongs are undergoing drastically rapid destruction carried out expressly in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The ancient ground-hugging houses are being replaced by hundreds of towering high-rise apartment buildings, office buildings, and hotels and their evicted tenants resettled in high-rise buildings on the outskirts of the city.
The exhibition comprises two series. Photographs taken through narrow apertures offering an intimate glimpse into the locked and hidden-from-view courtyards form one of the series. The other one consists of panoramic photographs, built up of iconic objects from various neighborhoods that were recorded and worked on to form an open, allegorical picture of the street and its residents.
The two series with their diverse points of view enable Varda Carmeli to display before us an image of ancient scenes and lifestyles that have survived up to the present day a moment before the change has occurred.
In the city of Beijing there is a proliferation of large colorful placards that are intended to conceal existing buildings and new building sites and that serve as a partition between them and the street. The images appearing on the placards portray attractive and intriguing landscapes from regions in the world outside China as well as local scenes and sites illustrating a progressively new modern world.
In these photographs the placards serve as the backdrop, the street is the stage, and passers-by are the actors. This mise-en-scène presents locals walking through widely varied scenery along the streets of their own hometown.
The juxtaposition of the placards and the people creates a perceptible contrast between firm and abiding actuality and images of fantasies imported into a Beijing under transformation.
Whispering Smoke. 2008
Motivated by a constant drive and the intriguing expectation of revealing the magic, Varda Carmeli continues to pursue her search after the enigmatic figure that repeatedly appears in her works. Only the staging undergoes any change.
During her sojourn in Guatemala (Chichicastenango, Antigua) Carmeli infiltrated into and merged with traditional ceremonies evoking a semblance of a meditative religious experience, which have given rise to a series of mystic photographs that time and again reveal the “figure” enveloped in whispering smoke.
The Catholic Church comprises the chief religion in Guatemala, and most of the inhabitants are devout Catholics. However, the Christian belief among the indigenous communities is blended with local traditional images. As a result, within the churches numerous villagers continue to celebrate traditional rituals based on the Maya civilization as well as other local rituals under the guidance of the Shamans. In almost all of their religious ceremonies the Christian rite is intertwined with the local customs that bestow upon the believers the sensation of ecstasy and the firsthand experience of the sublime.