Ariel Reichman – The last (last) light

In his fourth exhibition at PSM Ariel Reichman directly relates the numerous symbolic levels of meaning that are assigned to light to the technical significance of the medium in photography. And yet, the individual new series of works by Reichman in the exhibition The last (last) light at the first sight seem to lack precisely this component: light.

In the photographic series Grain, Reichman—who studied photography at the UDK Berlin—concentrates on classical analogue photography. By not looking for motifs, but simply photographing “nothing” he takes the viewer’s gaze back to the starting point of photography. Taking the non-existing images of “nothing”, Reichman photographed either in a glaringly bright or pitch-black room or directly into a source of light. By reducing the motif to nothing, and either being of all light or no light, what is recorded in the analogue process is the photographic material itself. The fact that photographic film of different grain sizes can be obtained becomes visible, and only the strong enlargement of the photographs ultimately allows the grain to be seen—in light or dark, depending on the initial situation. What is achieved is the total reduction of a photographic image.

In contrast to the image pixels of digital photography, the different grain sizes are all characterized by an organic, not schematic arrangement. Due to the random arrangement of the grain following no system, different picture worlds seem to open up in front of the eye of the viewer—following the human desire and its quest for pictorial logic. The over- or underexposure, which is otherwise to be read as a mistake, here becomes the concept, in order to not only break down the process of photography but also to present multilayered readabilities.

Furthermore, Ariel Reichman presents the new light works The last (last) light which have a clear reference to Félix González-Torres. Reichman has worked with the appropriation of other artworks previously: in particular works by González-Torres or Bruce Nauman can be found in a modified form and continued concept in his oeuvre. In The last (last) light black colored light bulbs hanging on a black cable of the ceiling form a contrary reference to the “white” version of González-Torres’ series Untitled (Last Light). Disturbing the black paint on the otherwise translucent glass prevents the effect of light scattering. The light is there and it shines, but it is captured under the black lacquer coating, with which Reichman has covered the bulbs by hand. The light is only weakly visible through the lacquer layer; it appears slightly reddish through the “color filter”, strongly recalling human veins under the skin.

Ariel Reichman, born 1979 in Johannesburg, South Africa, lives and works in Berlin. Solo shows include The Place Between Here and There, Akershus Art Center in Lillestrøm, NO (2017); At Night They Sleep, They Do, Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, IL (2014); 1200 kg Dirt, Petach-Tikva Museum of Contemporary Art, IL (2013). Reichman’s works have also been presented in Class Relations, Kunstverein Hamburg, DE (2018); Current Affairs and Regarding Africa: Contemporary Art and Afro-Futurism, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, IL (2017/2016) and Welcome to the Jungle, Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art (KW), Berlin, DE (2015).

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