Einat Amir/ Illuminance

In this exhibition, Einat Amir continues her quests into mythical realms, towards images that reflect light and enlightenment in Asian cultures—journeys summoned by her photographic practice. Although direct observation of light is contrary to the guidelines of photography, in her photographs and video works Amir has always been drawn to the glitter and glare, and to light itself, as both material and medium.
In her encounter with the Asian Art Collection of the Wilfrid Israel Museum, Amir was lured by the Thangkas (hand-painted Tibetan-Buddhist scrolls) and the Chinese bronze mirrors, whose patina stains, accumulated over the years, reminded her of suns and planets.
Amir began her career studying textile design, and continued her artistic path combining prints with photography and video installations. Challenging the boundaries of matter and medium is an integral part of her modus operandi. The work on the current installation began with photographing the backs of the Chinese mirrors, transforming the photographic space into an arena of miraculous occurrences. Optical phenomena related to light and its reflections, resulting from the encounter between a slide projector, mirrors, and the camera lens, motivated her to print the images on different surfaces and to explore the combination of manual and digital processing in diverse techniques: creasing, coating, cutting, and photoetching.
Under Amir’s hands, the Buddhist thangkas, painted on fabric and carried rolled up by monks, became prints on large transparencies, hung in the space like scrolls. One of them features a cosmological structure, whereas the other—a Buddha encircled by a halo of light, seated on a lotus flower throne, surrounded by heavenly deities. The light ostensibly emanating from him penetrates through the ultra-thin slits, which Amir cut in the image, as if she were drawing strings of light. These works oscillate between the physical and metaphysical qualities of light. They call upon the viewer to contemplate the magical nature of photography, reflecting light through which the sight is gradually revealed to the lens—and the Buddhist concept of “enlightenment,” denoting a bright, lucid state of consciousness which sees things as they are.
Amir works as an alchemist. She tries to distill the original essence, lost to the objects of her choice and breathe new life into them. The ancient mirrors, which have lost their ability to reflect, become a galactic space of reflections; the light, softly absorbed by the dark velvet, shines anew from the gold leaves and printed metal moons.
The exhibition offers a respite from the rapid pace of our time. The meditative sojourn within the infinite manifestations of light reminds us that the light of the sun and stars, that has been shining for millions of years, still shines on now.

Shir Meller-Yamaguchi