Absent Present

Photographs, Carmella Keet


Wandering was the basis of Carmella Keet's journeys while searching for abandoned and deserted buildings throughout Israel, buildings which are both absent and present, monuments to a life that was.

While mapping the width and breadth of the country she photographs the traces and footsteps of the country's history: shelters on the Dead Sea road, the amphitheaters in Kibbutz Ruchama, Shefayim, as well as Ramat Gan, convalescent homes in Bitan Aharon and in Ashkelon, a quarry in Mevaseret Zion, underground bunkers on the foot of the Jerusalem hills, an army base in Beit Dagan and more.

The familiar Israeli landscape surrounding these abandoned buildings, which bursts forth on all sides, is significant in Keet's work no less than the buildings themselves. Her choice of black-and-white photographs facilitates our ability to imagine the past life that evolved in these buildings, and distances viewers from their present condition. Keets asks us to listen to what once was, sense the life that was once vibrant in these buildings, a moment before they disappear from view completely. It is a kind of requiem and a prayer for the dead, for buildings, for a period in time, a place, for what once existed.