For his long-delayed and quite impressive U.S. solo debut, the Israeli photographer Barry Frydlender shows a series of vividly animated social landscapes that on first glance seem like straightforward street scenes or interior views. But look closer and you’ll find that in nearly every picture, figures crop up several times across the frame, their movement hinting at a passage of time that might involve several minutes or several weeks. Because each photo is digitally built up from many separate photos, Fryd-lender says, “They’re not really photographs anymore. They’re a marriage of two technologies: the art of the camera and the art of the computer.”
“It’s not one instant, it’s many instants put together,” he explains. “And there’s a hidden history in every image.” Since even the most ordinary images from Israel are politically and historically charged, Frydlender keeps the drama subtle even when his subject is a peace demonstration or the site of a suicide bombing, and avoids obviously staged tableaux. Instead, he gives us panoramic views of a small but densely packed grocery store and a quiet café that would be utterly impossible from a camera’s limited point of view. Of the café image, which moves seamlessly through the establishment’s glass doors and into the busy street outside, Frydlender says, “It’s not a panorama, it’s a walk.”
The rain-spattered roof in an overhead view of a flooded street was meticulously collaged from two months’ worth of separate shots. For another elevated view of a street in Jaffa, Frydlender photographed from a building that had been demolished by the time he returned to gather more landscape details, so a large swatch of the picture’s lower right corner is missing. No matter. What remains—a little girl running to retrieve a dropped shoe, a glimpse of a private interior, a sprawling graveyard—is fascinating. “I’m not limited by the moment,” Frydlender says, and neither is his audience.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 7, 2004