Written review by
Associate Curator, International Center of Photography
Eli’s portfolio is a stunning ensemble of eclectic but cohesive photographs. Technically, visually and psychologically, this series bring a lot to the viewer. I appreciate that Eli left us, the viewers, alone with images only, and no words at all. The photographs are powerful enough that we do not need any subtext to read them.
What is most interesting is that these eight images almost form one big image: they somewhat all blur into one, gigantic hallucination, a semi-conscious thought.
The first image, being the only one that is both color and black and white (or so it seems like a juxtaposition of a color and a black and white photograph), is particularly dream-like and striking. The bed seems to be evaporating, – the body on the bed, but is there really a body one the bed - seems like it is in levitation - like our souls when sleeping, or dying. It is a very striking image, the visual rendition of our subconscious lives.
Image 5 is also very striking, with the superimposition of the rain, and the naked body resting on the bed. Visually this might be one of the most complex images in the series, with the light creating web-like motifs in the back ground, enhancing the feeling of malaise. I think that photo 6, the portrait in the smoke, is more accomplished than the portrait of the same man in image number 3.
Probably because of that said smoke, or blur, or mist, or amnesia, the subject in image 6 disappears and gives the image more space to breathe by itself. The subject, the same man, is too self-aware in the other image: even though it is not a very surprising image, I like the fact that I can only see contours in image 6, because it fits better in the overall mood, that of the disappearing. There is also something quite daunting and haunting in portrait 2, I like the use of light, and the distance between Eli and the subject matter.
Image 8 is stunning, in many ways. Technically, it is a very good photograph, deeply disturbing, profoundly intriguing. The shattered motif and the explosion of light and matter is a perfect end note to this essay. The explosion, the before and the after, a mask of death, the impossibility of escaping the darkness.
The images that seem a little less strong for me are images 3, 4 and 7. I already discussed image 3 above by comparing it to image 6, and I would also discuss image 4 by comparing it to its pendant, image 1: I think that the latter is a better version of one same allegory, one that it more subtle, more accomplished. Image 4 is not a bad image, far from it, but it lacks in ambiguity and it seems like “this” had already been said: the disappearance, the possibility of death.
Image 7 is a good photograph, again, nothing to say about it technically - Eli is very skilled, an accomplished photographer with a very personal view of the world and a brilliant way to convey it to the viewer. But I do not feel the emotion that I feel in the better images. I do like the ambiguity – am I looking at a woman or at a man, it he/she dead or alive? But, perhaps because there is too much light and clarity in this room, I can’t get into the mystery: I remain on the surface. Perhaps there is not enough dream in this frame.
All in all I want to congratulate Eli for a very good work. “Fucked up” is a brilliant catharsis for the viewers, a dark but enjoyable trip…