Shai Kremer Finds Beauty In Fallen Empires

Shai Kremer’s Fallen Empires series shows unbiased images of Israel’s decay and destruction, encouraging dialogue via archeological remnants and landscapes.

shai kremer fallen empires

“Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present, controls the past.”
George Orwell, 1984

Opening tonight at Robert Koch Gallery in San Francisco tonight is Fallen Empires, a collection of large-scale color photographs depicting abandoned military outposts, destroyed houses, and indiscernable remnants of former structures. What is important to remember is that these images are documents of fact, not opinion; Kremer hopes to offer viewers visuals which are devoid of strong political opinion. The images are to speak for themselves.

The quote above is the introductory text chosen by Kremer himself to represent the totality of Fallen Empires. Kremer describes the Fallen Empires series on his website, saying:

“By visually highlighting Israel’s vast archeological repetoire, its architecture and its ruins, I question how they are used today in the discourse of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the future of the country… Every cultural struggle over territory involves overlapping memories, narratives, and physical structures. I am pointing my camera to dig and explore a reality ofIsrael behind the healines and the touristic adoration, to reveal the landscape as a cultural force, an instrument in the construction of national an social identities. Only by understanding the mix of geographical landscape with historical memory can one understand the persistence of the conflict and the difficulty in resolving it…

shai kremer fallen empires

According to the Robert Koch Gallery website:

Kremer’s camera looks at an Israel ignored by media headlines, revealing a land written and re-written by conflict. His beautifully haunting images capture poignant juxtapositions of creation and destruction, man-made and natural, timeless and ephemeral. “My images of vestiges are a platform for discussion about the legitimacy and efficiency of imperialism and its use of power,” the artist says. “The camera… reveals inconvenient truths and explores the landscape as a place of amnesia and erasure.” By visually highlighting Israel’s archeological ruins as reminders of a historical past, Kremer questions how they are used today in discourse around the Israeli- Palestinian conflict and the future of the country.

Below are a smattering of images from the show, which runs from now through February 25th, 2012, at Koch Gallery. The reception and book signing are tonight, January 5th, from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.

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Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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