Fragile Land (2018)
Fragile Land, an ongoing project in which the endangered, native flowers of Israel serve as a vehicle to investigate ideology and the mythological narratives surrounding the concept of homeland.
Throughout his career, Gersht has taken a poetic, metaphorical approach to explore political conflict and the multiplicity of truth. During Gersht’s childhood in Israel, it was common practice to visit the countryside and collect what were referred to as the “flowers of Israel”. Considered symbols of the connection between the Jewish people and their land, the plants were collected to the point of near-extinction. For Fragile Land, Gersht procured or cultivated specimens, including cyclamen, Iris Atropurpurea, and the Madonna lily, all of which have played a significant role in Israeli and European cultural histories. Then, in a highly choreographed studio session, Gersht exploded each flowering plant with a bullet fired from a customized air rifle.
Using an 8" x 10" plate camera with Polaroid film and a high-resolution digital camera to capture the event simultaneously, Gersht has captured two different realities, one of which is so technically precise as to exceed the capabilities of human vision and the other of which has the dreamlike quality of a memory.
In many of his previous projects, Gersht has used the genre of still life painting to explore the fragile nature of existence and the duality between what is enduring and what is momentary, a contradiction embedded in the very nature of photography