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Ladakh

ccording to the Italian philosopher Paolo D’Angelo, “Landscape in the aesthetic sense is not the beautiful view, not merely the panorama. Rather it is a distinctive character of places, which therefore belongs to these same places, even if, as is obvious, these places are perceived by the observer: in a word, we come to think of landscape as the aesthetic identity of a place.”[1]

These summits do not offer only vastness, beauty. The artist is not drawn by a touristic motivation for the perfect view. The gaze trained for years upon close-ups and interiors has not abandoned her completely, but here it materializes in details, aspects, zones. In Ladakh then, at an elevation of five or six thousand meters, we see how varied are the snow’s reflections and textures. For snow does not homogenize these images, and Talmor qualifies the different ways of being snow: the ways it exists, appears, disappears. A world of surfaces comprises this imaginary, whether the watery layer is concentrated or diluted, when it lets show the looming vegetal substrate.

Even though whiteness imposes itself here (for these color photographs at times take on a black and white aesthetic), there are always areas expressed in tone, in grades. In these regions of discolored color—pale gray, dissipated ochre, as dimensions of white—one sees hints of a green river, traces of a blue sky. But what prevails is a certain tarnishing, a snow that is never purely snowlike because it seems contaminated, not only by other materials but also by being spacelike, in an environment where the greatest rain and extreme drought interchange qualities. These are images of the arid but simultaneously of the wet majesty of the shrouded range.

Testimonies of an imposing immensity, of huge expanses that unfurl, these landscapes nonetheless are contained by the frame. Some of the photographs suggest a closed universe, which at the same time projects itself. Immensities concluded by the meeting of rivers and ridges—of the liquid and the earthly, of that which flows and that which sediments—contain a trace of light in their depths, through which the artist recognizes that this hugeness is inconclusive, unfinished, while she goes about building the structure of her open work.

Beyond the barrier of mountains, she knows, is Pakistan. And the unseeable evokes a broader content: again, here, partition. “Land of high passes,” “Little Tibet,” the locals call these ranges of Ladakh. Behind facades of peace, the mountains hold histories of conflict: closures at the Chinese border, long ownership disputes. Describing the wretchedness of the separation between India and Pakistan in his novel Partitions, Amit Majmudar writes: “How little we will learn, now that all we share is a border.”[2] Ladakh’s beauty, so clearly seen in these photographs, does not weaken these other, less luminous aspects. The mountain, inevitably for Talmor, is weighed down by this conscience, by the shadow of embattled frontiers. The whiteness of these high passes does not make them an angelic territory.

In some of the images, the sky is foregrounded, so that the work’s power stems from the sky's presence (3147, 3241). Yet in other cases, it is the sky’s total absence that allows us to concentrate on the vitality of the earthen mass (3149, 3242). “I am drawn to green landscapes, to water, but in fact I identify with the arid. That is how I always imagined biblical landscapes. Here in India, there is snow, but still, it is a desert landscape.” A few of the photographs stand out for their (albeit very pale) green, which contrasts with the dawning immensities, the minerality, of the others. These are ordered landscapes, sown into our human dimension, to the site of labor, future, harvest; or perhaps to an intermediate territory of bushes that binds the wild and the poetic—light landmarks between the eye and a distant mountain range, no longer the protagonist but rather now the background, the end, of the image (2970, 2971, 2972, 2984).

Maria Elena Ramos
Taken from the presentation text for the exhibition:
MAKOM
Caracas, Venezuela, 2012

[1] Paolo D’Angelo. Proposte per un’estetica del paesaggio. Revista Estética. N° 006, julio 2004. Universidad de Los Andes. Mérida, Venezuela. Translator’s note: my translation from the original.

[1] Majmudar, Amit. Partitions. Metropolitan Books 2011

Ladakh

In recent years, the work of Lihie Talmor has been like a progressive conquest of artistic space: from the two-dimensional plane of the etched page, with its illusionary spaces

s it necessary to have the proper distance so as to see the full picture? And how does one know what the proper distance is?

In recent years, the work of Lihie Talmor has been like a progressive conquest of artistic space: from the two-dimensional plane of the etched page, with its illusionary spaces

s it necessary to have the proper distance so as to see the full picture? And how does one know what the proper distance is?

It is not difficult to see in Lihie Talmor's work the expression of a sensitivity in its utmost development, that the artist knows how to communicate assertively

There exist an overriding need to distinguish between the ephemeral and the essential; the ephemeral wounds, the essential yet endures; until the day when the ephemeral will have corroded the essential, will have destroyed its very nucleus, its hard nucleus…

In a country where oblivion is who gathers the remains of the city, where the blanks of collective memory decide about the changes in power and the markets, the work of LIHIE TALMOR functions as a film of the subversive unconscious.

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