Fallen Empires

Shai Kremer


“Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”–George Orwell, 1984

Shai Kremer is an internationally acclaimed contemporary photographer whose images provoke discussion about justice and power. His practice is heavily invested in exploring and documenting the landscape, terrain that has been scarred by the militarization of Israeli society. This most recent series, Fallen Empires, examines how contemporary architecture is imbued with imperialism and dominance, existing on sites that have proved tactically advantageous for thousands of years. Kremer takes an archaeological approach, capturing the cumulative marks left by a succession of empires (Roman, Arab, Ottoman, British, Israeli), each with an agenda of territorial domination. His process offers a complex commentary that questions the politics of imperialism.

Within Kremer’s practice, recurring themes include: cultural conflict, physical manifestations of power and resistance, transience, justice, hubris, and fear. The artist’s works “warn against the vestiges of warfare becoming a permanent fixture in people’s lives,” thereby normalizing cycles of violence and conflict. These photographs are deeply affecting portraits that entwine imposing architecture–built for military training, defence and enforcement–with historically loaded landscapes.

Curated by Erica Segal