Only passing through the eye and vision actualizes the “tourist experience”: gazing at a different place, a different space and a different landscape. It is the experience of a pseudo-event, which in most cases is also immortalized as a photographic event in countless souvenir pictures. The pictures serve as testimonials, perpetuating the moment of the tourist’s existence in the event: in the landscape.
United Tours, Efrat Galnoor’s latest series of “landscape paintings,” is based in its entirety on souvenir photos of pseudo-events of people in a variety of places places; tourist photographs. Galnoor’s familiar roaming of various marginal places and sites across the country, which preceded her earlier paintings, was replaced in this series by a form of compiled or gathered tourism that seeks out images of the gaze of others as well as their physical presence in various landscapes and places: a sightseeing family visiting a mountainous fortress in the Czech Republic, a group of cheering teenage boys in Nablus, an abandoned agriculture greenhouse, a mountainous landscape, or a photograph of Abu Dhabi’s hotel district.
These are pictures of a photographic event within the landscape: a place that is the site of a cultural occurrence. The viewer’s gaze validates the landscape that necessarily cultured and present in the photographs. Its definition as a landscape, by contrast, precedes and dictates the behavior of those who pass through it.
The landscape’s photographic moment is stretched anew into the continuing present in which the painting is crafted. In the continuing painting present of United Tours, it is not a naïve or romantic picture that is created; Galnoor’s work explores the place of the eye and the act of seeing within the touristic experience of being present in a landscape. Galnoor’s collecting, gathering gaze searches for that photographic space in which the concrete place becomes at once also an abstract form, thereby enabling it as a present-time landscape. This dual standing, of the concrete place and the abstract form, constitutes both the landscape and the painting. In other words, in these paintings, Galnoor points to the possibility still inherent in the genre of landscape painting, as in the landscape itself, as an experience of the eye and of sight.
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