Night Visions

September 2001

Shine Gallery
3 Jubilee Place
London
SW3 3TD


A new body of work exploring the mystery and elusiveness of nightscapes. In this series, Kander imbues empty spaces with textures and colours resulting from the play of artificial light, film, and time. He traces the paths of electric light against backdrops of blackness to create abstract photographic etchings of human activity. In each of the photographs, only traces of human activity are visible while the subjects remain invisible. The ingenuity of human invention, whether in the form of electric lights, airplanes, or ocean liners in motion, seems fragile and temporal against the primal backdrops of fields, sea, and sky.

Charles Darwent, The Independent on Sunday, August 2001
Prints of Darkness

You feel Edmund Burke and Nadav Kander would have got on, somehow. "The ruling principle of the sublime is, in all cases… terror," wrote Burke, distinguishing between sublimity and mere beauty. Kander, a 40–year–old Israeli–born photographer, toes the same line.

Kander has decided (as it were) to cut out the middle man by cutting out people. A new series of pictures at London's Shine Gallery find their terror in absence. Chinos Junction 2, Los Angeles is devoid of everything. Its light–source is, in photographic terms, natural; which is to say, not produced in a studio. It even looks like the sun or stars. Yet this new firmament is as entirely artificial, as sickly green, as the theatrical gaslight loved by Degas. The place it illuminates is a non–place, on the way from nowhere to nowhere else; a capitalist dystopia.

But the scariest thing about Chinos Junction is that it's beautiful. More, it's frightening because its beauty is empathetic. The same commercial ruthlessness that makes motorways and motorway–lights makes good photographs. This isn't the picture of a landscape or a pleasing abstract composition. It's a portrait of coldness, and it's a self portrait. Burke would have called it sublime, and he would have been right.

Nina Caplan, Metro, September 2001
Night, silence, human presence implied rather than stated; in electric lights, isolated cars, footprint–pocked snow and, of course, the existence of these photographs. The viewer could be forgiven for thinking Israeli–born, London–based photographer Nadav Kander is none too fond of people but perhaps it's more awestruck respect for human achievement that leads him to wipe these pictures free of human warmth.

They are coolly inquisitive shots, often taken over hours, the contrast between deep night and artificial illumination made sharper by titles that point out the source of light. Those featuring buildings, motorways and cars are crisply delineated: trolleys stacked symmetrically before a K–mart's tiled wall; the rectangle of Holiness Church, facing a silver van as electric light intrudes from all sides.

The pictures of the fields and of the Pacific, on the other hand, have the fuzzy contrasting colour and peaceful aura of Rothko paintings. And, like those paintings, their air of communion with  nature is partly false: the light on fields and water comes from motorways, pier lights, trailer parks and in one case a landfill and recycling centre. No man is an island, these pictures imply, but nor is any place on Earth (or at least in America) entirely isolated from man.