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Yuval YairiIsraeli photographer Yuval Yairi has explored memory in his previous series Forevermore and Palaces of Memory. His technique of combining large numbers of photographs into a single image in the style of David Hockney or Lukas Roth is appropriate given the fractured nature of the past. Each component image is a visual truth but the entire constructed image demonstrates that there are many ways of seeing.
Ostensibly the The Savoy series is about a single hotel room but the context and the content of the room are not devoid of significance. The attack on Mumbai beginning on 26 November 2008 showed how a group coming ashore in rubber dinghies can spread death and destruction upon a civilian population. The Savoy Hotel in Tel Aviv on the night of 5th March 1975 was a retaliation for Operation Spring of Youth carried out by Israeli forces in Beirut in 1973. The attack on the Savoy Hotel was a part of a continuing saga of violence. Eight Palestinians held the guests in the hotel hostage and the next morning the hotel was stormed by the Israeli counter-terrorist unit Sayeret Matkal. The toll was considerable with seven Palestinians, eight hostages and three soldiers killed and others wounded. One of the soldiers killed was the former Sayeret Matkal commander Uzi Yairi who was not supposed to be there but when he heard about the attack went there taking his gun and binoculars.
Uzi Yairi was the father of the photographer Yuval Yairi.
So The Savoy deals with a personal trauma through the use of an artificial / imaginary space, into which clues are provided to a past event. At the time there were rumours as to why Uzi Yairi was at the hotel - was he having an affair and hence the naked woman? Why is the cleaning lady watching? Was this a real rumor or a childhood fantasy of the photographer who was 13 at the time the incident happened? Some components of the scene are Film Noir mystery - the Bogart on the wall of the hotel room is Bogart after all and an Exit sign shows how one can escape at a time of need both from a physical space and a half-imagined memory. The binoculars are the pair that Uzi Yairi took that night - so reality creeps in. The symbolism of mighty forces rising out of the ocean is there in the Botticelli painting of The Birth of Venus (ca. 1482-1486) which occurs in "Morning at the Savoy" and "Laila" photographs - the painting on the wall in "Rising from the Sea" includes the painting The Birth of Venus by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1879). In these paintings Venus is held in awe by those that surround her but in two other photographs "Mother Ship" and "Low Tide" another photograph hangs showing the mother ship that the Palestinians left from in their Zodiac to start the attack - perhaps from the area of sea shown through the open window.
We are viewing broken memories as photographic shards.
Alan Griffiths with the assistance of Yuval Yairi (January 2010)