Past Public Program
Artis presented an artist talk by Ori Gersht at Angles Gallery on the occasion of the Gersht’s solo exhibition Falling Petals.
The images in Falling Petals navigate the significance of cherry blossoms in Japanese culture. The ephemeral beauty of the cherry blossoms, which flourish every spring for only 2 weeks, has long been associated with the celebration and renewal of life and good fortune. In Buddhist tradition, cherry blossoms symbolize an awareness of the impermanence of life. During the Meiji Era in the late 19th century, the symbol of the cherry blossom was reappropriated to support colonial expansion and military power. The symbolism of the virginal petals that fall from the trees, prematurely, was used by the Japanese military during WWII to lure Kamikaze soldiers to die without clinging to life.
To produce the series, Ori Gersht visited Japan during the spring of 2010, photographing the cherry trees as they bloomed in cities and in the countryside. In the remote western regions, the ancient cherry blossom trees are planted around Buddhist temples, whereas in Hiroshima and Tokyo, they are planted around war memorials, fed by nuclear contaminated soil. The dichotomy exists in the culture today, between the war-torn history of Japan’s modern cities and the serenity of the ancient landscape.