Shai Kremer is an Israeli photographer best known for his series “Infected Landscape”. Kremer was educated in photography at Tel Aviv’s Camera Obscura School of Arts, as well as in media arts at the School of Visual Arts in New York, NY. The photographs Military Ammunition Storage, Ten Years After Explosion and
Shooting Defense Wall, Gilo Neighborhood are from Shai Kremer’s Infected Landscape series and are part of Chapman’s Escalette Collection of Art. Throughout his career, Shai Kremer has had solo exhibitions in Tel Aviv, London, Paris, San Francisco, Houston, and New York City. He is known globally for his photography and has been in numerous other group exhibitions.
In 1999 Kremer began his series Infected Landscape. These photographs depict the desolate and scarring impact that war can have on nature, and how it takes years to recover from the military’s damage. This notion of a damaged earth, found in all of his photographs, is reflective of the trauma that warfare causes on the human mind. Kremer states that “My images mirror the psychological trauma and resulting ambivalence of living in a world of friction”. Growing up in Israel, Shai Kremer has had firsthand experience of just how devastating continuous military conflict can be on the human experience and mind.
Most of Kremer’s photographs in the series “Infected Landscape” appear to be filled with aesthetic beauty and have an orderly composition. According to Kremer, this is meant to represent the defense mechanism set up by the Israeli people. Simplicity and subtle beauty help make the Israeli people feel normal and at ease with so much unrest and violence surrounding them.
Looking specifically at the photograph Military Ammunition Storage, Ten Years After Explosion, from 2001, it is obvious that the effects of the military can be devastating. The landscape appears to have just started the process of regrowth, a lengthy ten years after the ammunition explosion took place. The flowers that have begun to grow are bright and yellow in color, adding a sunny glimpse of hope to the ominous grey clouds and abandoned dirt road in the background. Kremer says his images “…warn against vestiges of warfare becoming a permanent fixture in people’s lives.” Kremer wants the landscape of this photograph to appear overgrown and ancient so the viewer knows that this military base isn’t being used anymore– military action has stopped and the landscape is able to regrow. Only the ominous grey clouds in the photograph hint at the scars and tragedies of this landscape.
Another photograph in Kremer’s “Infected Landscape” series is named
Shooting Defense Wall Surrounding Gilo Neighborhood, which was shot in 2004. The settlement of Gilo, near Jerusalem, is to this day a topic of political contention. While this conflict continues, Kremer photographs two young children walking along a deserted street. This is the only photograph in the series that includes figural depictions and therefore has a much more direct impact on the viewer. The picture forces the viewer to think about the reality these children are growing up in: a world filled with defensive walls, gloomy skies, and barren trees.
These photographs, along with the entire series, prove that Shai Kremer has a strong artistic voice. Having grown up in Israel, Kremer expresses a message that is both personal and passionate. His images help the viewer to understand the effect that war has had on him and numerous other people.