theprintspace article by Wido Falkenstein // ascensIon. (17.2.12)

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“Haunting, complex and evocative”, “challenging, exciting and confrontational”, “intense”, “mesmerising”, “stunning!” – these are just a few comments by visitors to ascensIon. – the latest installation by Israeli-born British artist Eran Tsafrir at the hidden Old Shoreditch Station Project Space.

I went to discover the secret for myself, and I want to share with you some of the experience, and introduce you to Eran’s work:

Equipped with a torch, through a hidden black door, a visitor to ascensIon. is ‘thrown’ into a dark, derelict space, embarking upon a solitary journey through the interior of the old Shoreditch station, an ascension to a setting of ethereal photographic images of a snow white English landscape, enclosed in lead structures, suspended above mounds of earth, grit, bricks, tarmac and cement – to Golgotha.

Fragments of footage of protests and riots, veiled by tarnished processed fabric and newspapers, emerge from behind the composition. Audio elements resonate within the space – political speeches and statements about the effect of snow on the faltering economy, parliamentary debates, a rioting black bloc, the chiming bells of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and from above, the ‘live’ sound of trains passing.

The experience is intense and overwhelming.

“ascensIon.”, Eran explains, “is part of diG.shaKe.riSeandblEEed,myloVe. – an umbrella project set to question the potency of demonstration, revolt and sacrifice as an instrument for policy change, against the backdrop of the current economic downturn, cuts, job losses, protests, strikes, riots and occupations.

“The installation serves as a trigger or catalyst for debate, and for tackling some difficult questions about the wave of protests we have witnessed here in the last year or so.”

“The work incorporates a range of media, but has at its centre a composition of photographic images. I took these images on Hampstead Heath on days of snow and frost, with a Hasselblad 503cw.

“Like most of my photographic work, they were shot on colour transparencies (Fuji Provia) using available light without filters, and were not manipulated or retouched in post-production, so as to preserve their mimetic essence and what I saw and wanted to document.

“The images were printed on German Etching paper, which absorbs the strong light of the torch used to view them. The prints were mounted on aluminium, and each was placed in a specially designed lead frame. Assembled together within the space, they create a large, unified and rather delicate composition that is suspended in the midst of a dark, derelict and rather aggressive spatial environment, floating above two tonnes of rubble that was dug from underneath the streets of London”.

Images © Eran Tsafrir

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