Barak Zemer Transit
Transit by Barak Zemer
Published and distributed by F
Publication Date: March 2018
4.125 x 3.125 x .6 inches, accordion fold
Hand-cut and folded inkjet prints
Edition of 50
As its title suggests, Transit brings to mind the vast systems that move people and goods across borders, states, and oceans. We are reminded of the prehistoric nature of passage, a building block of civilization, and of the era when humans followed flocks, migrating with the seasons. Contemporary use has the concept wrapped up in elaborate bus and train lines, crowded airplanes, the solitude of a car commute along congested sprawling highways. For Zemer, transit includes the subjective individual experience of being shuttled around seemingly interchangeable architectures—into and through offices, zoos, hospital rooms. Always in movement, yet always waiting. Passage is not without toll.
Using a handheld camera, Zemer takes images of the world around him with minimal interference and a convincing objectivity. This exhibition shows a dystopian panorama, broken up by space and time. Each photograph reveals a corner of a maze, individual moments in a segmented, blunt realism. The frame stays tight, nearly claustrophobic. The looming density of the world outside the lens pushes its way into the frame; rich black shapes compress the view. A feeling of entrapment dominates. The movement implied by the term transit takes an ironic turn, as these scenes depict an absolute stillness; there is no blur, no suggestion of motion. The movement is internal for the subjects in these photographs, caught in the slow entanglement of being processed: children into adults, creativity into struggle, animals into meat, love into servitude.
Like a set of Russian dolls, everything here nests inside of something, then something else again, framed and reframed. An apple suspended in an upside-down glass sits on the dashboard of a car in highway traffic. A model plane on a tripod is stanchioned off in an airport at the gate. We see hands and body parts; faces appear only in fragment: the jaw of a woman in a parking lot, her face twice obscured by car doors; the nose and mouth of a man in flight down the row in coach, the rest of his face and body in dark shadow. Only a dog makes eye contact, but the dog is harnessed, leashed, tagged, and locked in its owner’s arms. There is no home here, no domestic space, nor does Zemer own the things he photographs. The framework for these photographs is the weight of knowledge and red tape that constitutes the mundane interconnectedness of life. This is a search for freedom in places and things owned by others, in the grip of time and bureaucracy.
This publication was first an exhibition: Barak Zemer Transit, Night Gallery, Los Angeles, January 20 – March 3, 2017