Fire-Ravaged Valley, Gamla, Israel, 2010 by Beth Gilbert
(from the series Scarred Land)
Beth Gilbert’s images from the series Scarred Land build on a foundation of traditional landscape depiction. The sequence of photographs, carefully edited and framed, influences the knowledge we glean from looking. Historic references express the cyclical and perpetual nature of human devastation and its concurrent impact on the earth: here the gorged land, receding away with mountains that frame its destruction, recalls Roger Fenton’s Crimea and his photograph Valley of the Shadow of Death. Fenton’s photograph sports cannonballs that were strategically placed to create impact; Beth’s image substitutes the ravages of fire. Both were made with a documentary impulse to record the impact of war but 155 years separates them and their audience’s reactions.
Presented to a western audience today, Gilbert’s images function as most photographs of distant points do, providing information that constructs an understanding of a place most viewers have never visited. The vegetation growing from the hills undermines the obvious references to war, however, and raises questions. Is this destruction or regrowth? Are we falling or rising? The image refuses to answer, caught between ruined and re-grown, historic and contemporary.
Beth A. Gilbert holds a BA from Simmons College and will be pursuing an MFA in photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology beginning in the fall of 2013. Her photographs have been shown at the Danforth Museum of Art, the Boston Online Biennial, and the Hadassah Gallery in Jerusalem, Israel. Currently living and working in Boston, MA, she is a core member of C.R.I.T., a Boston area photography collective.
for more, please visit www.bethgilbert.net