The haunting photographs in Uri Gershuni’s latest book Yesterday’s Sun pit contemporaneity against nostalgia in creating a series of images that not only capture lost moments in time, but also give the same urgency to the present day. Gershuni follows in the footsteps of William Henry Fox Talbot, one of photography’s pioneers, recapturing his estate and reinterpreting his aesthetic. These images celebrate photography’s early camera models and traditional subjects. By rigging his digital camera to operate as a pinhole camera, Gershuni produces the gauzy and slightly eerie images of the contents and atmosphere of Talbot’s Lacock Abbey in Wilshire.
The series begins with a photograph of Talbot’s epitaph followed by images of the cemetery where it resides. Upfront, Gershuni presents his inspiration before allowing the viewer to indulge in his interpretation. The air of a forgotten place and era grows stronger through each image. The village where Lacock Abbey is located appears desolate and frozen in time and the same feels true for the surrounding property and the abby interior. However, interspersed between the quiet and still images of the Abbey, Gershuni interjects portraits of a modern day man named Bambi. His presence throughout the series showcases Gershuni’s ability with the portrait, but still elicits the same feeling of a solitary existence. The New World collides with the Old World as Gershuni’s portraits punctuate the series of still-life and architectural photographs. Bambi acts as the life force moving through the series of ghostly images, weaving Gershuni’s exploration into a narrative. At the end of Yesterday’s Sun we are brought back to the cemetery, reminding us that the journey we just took began and ended with something that has already left this world.
Review by Caitlin Díaz