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Balancing on shifting ground: Migratory aesthetics and recuperation of presence in Ori Gersht’s video installation On Reflection

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This article looks at On Reflection, a video installation by the London-based artist Ori Gersht, in light of the artist’s transcultural or ‘travelling’ position between the United Kingdom, where Gersht has been residing and practising art since 1989, and his native country of Israel. Through close analysis of a single video installation by a British/Israeli ‘radicant’, to adopt Nicolas Bourriaud’s suggestive nomenclature, the article asks how the global migratory condition is affecting contemporary art and aesthetic experience. Focusing on sensory and motor aspects of viewers’ engagement with the installation, the article proposes an approach to the political through the prism of aisthêsis, or sensory engagement. It further suggests that On Reflection evinces a cautious effort to augment observers’ sense of bodily presence, which, however, does not outlast the brief duration of the gallery visit. The multidisciplinary approach offered here combines close attention to aesthetics, in Jill Bennett’s sense of ‘what art does’, with insights from phenomenological film theory and from cognitive neuroscience. It is argued that this is a productive critical gateway through which to investigate the migratory turn in global art.
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Keywords: Ori Gersht; haptic visuality; migratory aesthetics; neuroaesthetics; old-master painting; phenomenology; video installations

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000406047424The Open University of Israel

Publication date: October 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • The course of cultures at both local and global levels is crucially affected by migratory movements. In turn, culture itself is turned migrant. This journal will advance the study of the plethora of cultural texts on migration produced by an increasing number of cultural practitioners across the globe who tackle questions of culture in the context of migration. They do this in a variety of ways and through a variety of media. To name but a few relevant aspects of this juncture of migration and culture, questions of dislocation, travel, borders, diasporic identities, transnational contacts and cultures, cultural memory, the transmission of identity across generations, questions of hybridity and cultural difference, the material and oral histories of migration and the role of new technologies in bridging cultures and fostering cultural cross-pollination will all be relevant. Methodologies of research will include both the study of 'texts' and fieldwork.
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