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Falling Bird (2008)


The photographs of 'Falling Bird', are based on Chardin's still life painting titled ‘A Mallard Drake Hanging on a Wall and a Seville Orange’. The images reveal a hanging mallard, suddenly free-falling towards a mirror like black surface, collapsing into its own reflection. On impact the bird penetrates the liquid surface and in doing so triggers an epic chain reaction, reminiscent of a geological disaster.


This is a body of still life works, which are related to seminal old masters paintings. In these works, Gersht explores relationships between photography and technology, revisiting fundamental philosophical conundrums concerning optical perception, conceptions of time and the relationships between the photographic image and objective reality.


Gersht´s photographs allude to the inherent shadow of death and decay hanging over old master still life and vanitas paintings. However, technology has aided Gersht in creating contemporary versions, bringing the concerns of still life masters into a contemporary context. By basing his films and photographs upon paintings within the long-established art historical tradition, Gersht draws attention to the painterly nature of his work which closely resembles these iconic masterpieces. Yet they are distanced due to the instantaneous digital process which translates every second in reality to a minute on film in the case of the moving image pieces and in the photographs, captures each shattering still life at a speed of 1/3200 of a second and stores the information immaterially as data on a hardrive until each is transcoded into a film or fabricated as a C-Type print, returning the image to the world of two-dimensional artworks. 


Throughout this body of work peacefully balanced compositions become victims of brutal terror, revealing an uneasy beauty in destruction. This tension that exists between violence and beauty, destruction and creation, is enhanced by the fruitful collision of the age-old need to capture “reality” and the potential of photography to question what that actually means.  The authority of photography in relation to objective truth has been shattered, but new possibilities to experience reality in a more complex and challenging manner have arisen.

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