Leigh Orpaz

by Forrest Wrightwood

Trapped by Analysis to the Point of Paralysis

Artist Statement

My initial attraction is to dysfunctional situations, when an object becomes alienated and a sense of standstill is achieved, as a consequence the images are trapped in the liminal space, always in-between. This is similar to the effect of a neverending loop. Each work is a result of an accident, something beautiful that was spoiled, and when the magic evaporates the artificial sense lingers on. We live in a world where the screened image is everywhere, I am interested in dissolving the concept of the screened image, what happens to it when you isolate the image and empty the narrative.

I use generic kitsch images such as an ice swan, a sand castle, or fireworks, and invite a deeper look into them which depicts a mere illusion, a fleeting magician’s trick. These images are taken from the western consumer culture tradition, mixed with ones from the Middle East and Far East reality. Creating a globalized blend of overused romantic temptations, discharged from their symbolic power, but still clinging to their beauty. My video works tempt the viewers to look closely into what seems at first to be a simple minimalistic gesture. In the video Cars, the viewer watches cars driving fast from both sides of the unchanging frame. In Fireworks, a black screen and the sound of a countdown interchanges into handmade fireworks, with an image standing in the midst of this improvised “battlefield.” In my latest video, abstract black and white characters dance in a club-like environment, detached from time and place. A closer look discovers that the warm bodies of the dancers were shot with a thermal camera, usually used for Army night vision.

My works largely deal with a clash between used images and the criticism about the fantasy these images imply; to the point the images expose a sad fragility. That liminal experience is realized through those images. The existence of my works is like the light in the fridge: on the verge of disappearance, of being shut down with the risk of flickering back again.

There seems to be a disconnected quality between the viewer and the subject in your photographs. Is this intentional?

The disconnected quality is not intentional. I think that the photographs demand from the viewer a deeper look, like a postponement of the gaze.

Where do you see the direction of your work heading in the future?

In the past 8 years I mainly do video art—I think that my work deals more and more with the condition of  the individual in our digital society and its implications.

Can we separate our online lives from our real lives?

I think that there is a mix of the real and the virtual, there is a false sense of togetherness in the virtual world, but actually you feel more detached than ever, so you think we should separate our online lives from our real lives. I don’t think we know how anymore.

Viewing art on the Internet differs from viewing art in a gallery. In your work, where do those two experiences meet? Where do they diverge? 

For me, viewing art on the Internet is a way to get to know or gain more knowledge about artists or exhibitions. But the ones I really like, I hope to see in the real life, to be able to stand in front of the artwork itself.

Describe your ideal audience.

My ideal audience can be anyone who is moved by my work.

Tell us about Tel Aviv. 

Tel Aviv is a great city to live in—it is vibrant and there is always something to do—and to be able to walk five minutes and be at the sea is the best therapy, and it’s free.

“Untitled,” (2008). Lambda print. 70 x 70 centimeters. Courtesy the artist.
“Untitled,” (2008). Lambda print. 70 x 70 centimeters. Courtesy the artist.
“Seven Stars,” (2012). Video Still. HD Video. 1 minute. Dimensions vary. Courtesy the artist.
“Untitled,” (2004). Lambda print. 70 x 70 centimeters. Courtesy the artist.
“Sandcastle,” (2006). Lambda print. 40 x 40 centimeters. Courtesy the artist.