Day for Night1

אלדד רפאלי
Eldad Rafaeli

אוצרת: נורית טל-טנא
Curator: Nurit Tal-Tenne

Eldad Rafaeli is an artist, photographer, and curator known for his great contribution to the Israeli field of photography as well as to its development. He is constantly attempting to connect complex patterns of personal outlook via his artistic photography. 

Photographer Gilles Peress wrote about Rafaeli, “If you really want to meet Eldad you have to travel to the Great Beyond, a world that is like the hidden face of the moon: never seen! A world that is the antithesis of this pallid place we call ‘our world’” [2].

The exhibition is composed as an assemblage made up of documented photographs of Tel Aviv nightlife (1991–1997), photographs of the great outdoors—the sublime nature—taken in daylight, photographs of classic artworks with religious-Christian attributes (2018–2021), and the video work The Way to the High Mountain (2019). This hybridization creates a brand-new outlook—both spiritual and materialistic—towards time and space, and towards human nature in a nihilistic-existentialistic world: people’s loneliness and their constant yearning for love.

The photographs of Tel Avivian nightlife during the 1990’s depict wild interactions of ecstatic culture which was considered radical for its time: electronic music, ecstasy[3] (MDMA) and liquor saturated outings, provocative appearances, casual sex, and self-exploration. 

At the time, a young Rafaeli is not only documenting but actively participating in the clubbing scene, which includes places like the Lemon and Rosalinda. When Allenby 58[4] first opened in 1994, it rapidly transformed into a social and cultural hub, with performances by some of the best international DJs, and where for the first time, heterosexual and gay crowds collide. Allenby 58 put Israel on the clubbing map and eventually earned the title Dance Nation.

In a photographic syntax, wild meets wild when photographs of the great outdoors are added to the mix. Illuminated vast spaces that are in fact archetypal images, touching the collective subconsciousness, crossing through geologic layers, and diving into the depths of the psyche. Their infinite power magnifies our human insignificance and nothingness. 

The above-mentioned photographs are also joined by photographs of Renaissance art works which consists of universal and aesthetic images with Christian characteristics, iconic symbols, a deceased Jesus and a gesture of prayer: reminders of the human mortality (Memento mori), the constant conflict between earthly beauty and luxury and the awareness of death, and the recognition of an illusive greater power. They who walk on all two, in their earthly journey facing their destiny, who wish to reach the summit, only to discover a higher one when they do. 

Rafaeli’s current point of view facilitates a different outlook of Tel Aviv’s nocturnal photographs[5] from the 1990’s, and creates enigmatic connections between night and day, Sanctity and profane, Documentary and intangible. A connector of hyle[6] capacity, intertwines with the eternalness of time, space, and human nature—A visibility that contains more than meets the eye. 

Nurit Tal-Tenne — Curator

[1]  The term ‘Day for Night’ was also the English title of François Truffaut’s film about a film-making crew. The title, in French La Nuit américaine (‘American Night’), refers to the effect in which the use of filters, underexposure, and tungsten stock is used outdoors in daylight to create a nocturnal effect.

[2]   Gilles Peress, Through Me You Pass into The City of Woe, The Way to The High Mountain, Eldad Rafaeli, Hebrew translation by Merav Zaks Portal, p. 284.

[3]   Doron Halutz, “The 90s’ are remembered as a decade in which Ecstasy penetrated popular culture. Ecstasy wasn’t just another drug, but a characteristic of a generation (‘generation E’), documented in books and movies, music, and fashion. The routinizing of Ecstasy in the clubbing culture had a big part in the nightlife spiking”, from an article in Haaretz’s Friday edition, December 12, 2008.

[4]  Allenby 58 was established in 1994 by Uri Stark and Rel Nadel. Thursdays were dedicated to House music with DJ Choopie, and Fridays to Shirazi’s gay parties called Playroom. in 1996 Shirazi started his party line After Party, the place shut down in 2000.   

[5]  These photographs won the photographer the Award for a Young Israeli Artist in 1994. They were exhibited in Tel-Aviv: A Temporary Documentation, group exhibition, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 1994.

[6]  Primordial, in Greek philosophy, hyle matter is the original matter which constitutes the world, from The Academy of The Hebrew Language.

Translation to English: Inbar Dekel

תרגום לאנגלית: ענבר דקל

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