Ori Gersht, “Pomegranate” (2006). Courtesy Noga Gallery of Contemporary Art.
“‘Pomegranate,’ started with my imagining a bullet going through the fruit and causing it to bleed. My initial associations were with pomegranates in old masters painting and their Judeo-Christian symbolism. A [Juan] Sánchez Cotán painting and [Harold] Edgerton photograph then emerged from my unconscious. The final film is a fusion of these three elements.
For the production, I worked with a film-commissioning group in London called Film and Video Umbrella. With their production team, I constructed a wooden window in the studio and hung the fruit and vegetables from the top frame. When we lit the vegetables, very simply, and looked at them through the camera lens, the transformation was instant: they looked very painterly. For the shooting, we consulted with a special-effects expert, who constructed a special gun and devised a mechanism that allowed us to control the speed of the pellets.
After the filming, I realized that the fusion between the Cotán painting and the Edgerton photograph was also the fusion between opposite ends of a spectrum. Cotán was attempting to achieve compositional equilibrium through painstaking mathematical calculations, while Edgarton, who was trying to freeze time, captured a perfectly balanced composition from an event that happened in a flash, conceivable only through the mediation of the camera.”
-Photographer and artist Ori Gersht in an interview with Ronni Baer that appears in the catalogue for “History Repeating,” the first full survey of Gersht’s work. The exhibition is on view through January 6 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.