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The photographic process at work for Ori Gersht

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There seem to be relatively few photographers who take a serious interest in architecture as a subject, compared with the many who are happy to treat it as an object of professional (essentially commercial) involvement. Ori Gersht belongs to the former, struggling to get at the essence of reality behind a building's surface, and abjuring the perfect architectural image for pictures in which the irregularities and imperfections are the keys to the real meaning and significance to those whose lives it frames.

Gersht explains that he works 'in a very simple way', using always the same lens, no filters, so that the process of taking a photograph is literally 'just a click.' He says he is 'more interested in perception', which he explores during the darkroom process - one 'much closer to painting.'

In a forthcoming exhibition, White Noise, he shows images which 'erase information to the point where it is almost not a photo any more'.

The pictures taken with a camera at waist-height from a moving train, following the route from the ghetto to the extermination camps, are about 'missing things' which, by liberating the viewer from visual facts, allow a closer approach to the 'ambience' of a place.

The same attitude underpins the images made by Gersht of his journey from London to Sarajevo.

As he got closer to his destination - one in which, as he points out, the media had quickly lost all interest following the cessation of conflict - he found 'the images start dematerializing'. The architecture itself started to change, featuring tower blocks as ideological symbols of a socialist agenda. But those blocks, covered in the marks of war, also had the vividness of colour charts, with 'details held within strong grid forms'. He describes the damage in terms of scars which had become part of the architecture, turning them into living organisms created by time and memory.

In his long exposures taken from a balcony of one of these towers, the 'emanating light' from the surrounding buildings 'represents life', coexisting with the evidence of atrocities recorded on the exterior of the city. By contrast, the interior photograph of a friend's library represents an abstraction of the culture and intimacy which forms the other side of the coin. As he says, life goes on and, indeed, the city is 'buzzy' with signs of renewal and 'real optimism' in the aftermath of the war. This is despite the hollow images of the devastated and never-inhabited old people's home on the front-line, and the 'architectural facade with no volume' which is a shelled hotel further south in an idyllic riverside setting.

Gersht has photographed London too - from the 14th floor of a council block; flat, monochrome images, with just a hint of 3D space, a powerful, subjective view of a city which so many think they know so well.

Ori Gersht's talk, 'Between Now and Then', took place at the AA. His exhibition White Noise opens at the Andrew Mummery Gallery in mid May vital statistics There are 171,000 fewer social rented homes owned by councils and housing associations in London than in 1981, mainly because of Right to Buy sales of council housing.

Figures for 1999 show there were 5.9 deaths per 100,000 population on Britain's roads: the lowest rate in Europe.But the child pedestrian death rate was 0.87 per 100,000, compared with 0.78 in France,0.65 in Germany and 0.24 in Sweden.

According to the latest Good Beach Guide from the Marine Conservation Society, 275 of the UK's beaches come up to scratch - a 28 per cent increase on last year.

There were 3,681 corporate insolvencies in England and Wales in the first quarter of 2001, according to government figures, down 0.6 per cent on the previous quarter but up 8.1 per cent on the same period a year ago.

The past year saw 1.1 per cent of companies become insolvent.

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