Sunset, that mute testimony to the struggle between light and dark, is the focus of a group show, “Disappearance of Light/Sunset,” currently on view at the Zaritzky Artists’ House in Tel Aviv (9 Alharizi Street). Undaunted by the banality and sense of kitsch associated with the plethora of sunset representations, the exhibition’s curator, photographer Anat Gorel-Rorberger, has chosen to zoom in on the magical, euphoric feeling that sunsets generate within her. The range of examples she has collected aim to examine the relevance and implications of this natural phenomenon.
Alongside sunset images taken by Israeli photographic artists – including Hanna Sahar, David Adika and Simcha Shirman – the curator also decided to showcase selected Instagram shots and other amateur photographers from the Internet. Her rationale: the renewed validation the Web accords to the light in the heavens and the cloying feeling it produces in its viewers. Assuming that sunset is indeed a kind of wallpaper of consensual beauty, the exhibition’s mix of professional and amateur photography should have the effect of eliminating entirely the hierarchy in the field.
“There are no winners here. Everyone gapes at sunsets. People look directly into the sun as it’s going down, cluck mildly and click away,” Gorel-Rorberger says. For her, it’s the Web that awakened anew the problem of saccharine-drenched shots of the dying light. The ease and availability afforded by websites, the range of immediate effects it can create and the technology it promotes (some new cameras have a special setting for the sunset) are intended, above all, to heighten and intensify the astonishment, and to capture the most thrilling sunset of all.
“Everyone is looking for the personal imprint in documenting the daily event of the sun’s disappearance,” Gorel-Rorberger notes. “What is the ultimate sunset? Is there such a thing? Or are all sunsets the product of a feverish imagination?”
Commensurate with this approach, the exhibition offers not a single ultimate sunset, but a variety of magical views of the sun. Some of them enshrine warmth, security and hope. Others underscore the existential uncertainty inherent in the light of this blazing but fading reality. And others give expression to the anxiety that can arise in the face of the sun’s potential for evil: the death that sunset portends.
In any event, the curator observes, the sun’s daily burial as it flaunts its last rays will continue to engage us forever. “When we look fearlessly into the orb of the sun, we experience a type of euphoria,” she believes. “We feel a connection to the universe, a momentary disconnect from reality, a journey into the realms of metaphysics and dreams. A camera is generally pulled out, for this is a type of magic that we find irresistible. It’s a singular show of light and dark, of which we can never get enough. We cannot help documenting sunsets. It’s a continuing obsession, a kind of ritual through which we affirm to ourselves that the darkness of the night will be followed by another sunrise, which will allow us to start everything anew.”