Monday, 10 May 2010

Beth Herzhaft at Saatchi Online

You've been kidnapped, and there's a little crack of light over there, so wriggle towards it (your hands are tied, too). You nudge open what feels like a curtain with your nose and see an ordinary street scene: shops, cars, trees. Notice how your eyes are taking everything in, feverishly. Thrumming with adrenaline, your brain is processing visual information in double time: where am I? What time is it? How far have I gone? Through the glass (there's glass) you can't hear or smell anything, either, so your eyes do all the work. That took about two seconds. (By the way: you weren't kidnapped, you fell asleep in the back of your mum's car).

Photography works like that sudden exposure of illuminated information - it literally does, and it's worth drawing back every time to those early, spectral appearances of the outside world, inverted, in camera obscuras. To paraphrase the great Eric Carmen, eyes attuned to look at photographs are hungry eyes. They need to be: every photograph is as much a no as a yes, as much a blocking-out as a revelation. Give a rat an orange and he'll gnaw every last fibre (trust me). Your eyes do the same with Beth Herzhaft's series she calls "area photographs". Each is a cropped sliver of information: life through a letterbox.

Read the whole thing (and see my top ten recommended artists) at Saatchi Online here.

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