Noga Greenberg | Firm Ground

“You stretch out the earth over the waters.” The words are from the Jewish blessing recited in the morning, from which the exhibition’s name was taken. They express a wish for stability and harmony between the foundations sustaining the world. It is the exhibition’s starting point: pondering the nature of the basic things on which her life stands, the personal rituals, the very materialistic aspects of life, and their relation to the transcendental.

Over the past year and a half, Greenberg has assembled a body of work based on 35mm films and 6X9 slide films. She deals with home spaces on all levels, capturing encounters between spiritual-mental areas and earthly ones and the processes that occur in them. These are spaces that yearn to soar, striving for the endless horizon and breathing space while at the same time allowing for the existence of intimacy, which overflows until the point of bursting.

In the body of work displayed in the exhibition, images of home and beds become white clouds and horizons, bright color stains of a film that has undergone processes of erosion and disintegration, alongside real or imagined landscapes. The horizon present in the works has symbolic meaning, as separating sacred and secular states or inner and outer intermediate states. Greenberg delimits spaces that are essentially vague – the meeting between ground and sky, the transition point between wakefulness and sleep, the infinite potential of the film, and the subtle sense of longing that hovers over everything, looking for a vessel to dwell in.

The formulated and organized reality disintegrates in the transition between small, compressed lightboxes of landscapes with blue skies and vast prints of beds with cluttered bedding; the film is stained, and the landscapes fade into the walls; the rooms of her home are illuminated by unplanned flashes of light. She deals with the sense of boundaries and order instability and penetrates new, colorful and bold states of disorder or perfection. The small lightboxes gleam; they are glowing dots that enclose spaces with horizons. In these spaces lies the potential for releasing the held breath, but they too remain an object of longing, like promising something far from her. They are small, the details are inaccessible, and the sense of well-being we are accustomed to finding in ourselves while visiting vast landscapes is absent here.

The domestic spaces scattered around the lightboxes are depicted through disrupted moments, small fragments in which she found grace. For the most part, it is in the flicker of light, whether it is a sunbeam flaring the lens, one that has randomly penetrated the camera and burned the film, or one that casts a warm and delightful softness. She lingers on the sense of intimacy and the place where it has formed, in the form of the bedroom and the beds’ condition, the privacy of her living room with the silhouette of one of her children hiding behind a curtain. But even into the intimate and private space, a feeling of something overflowing creeps in and can no longer be contained. Longing needs room to grow, and within the intensity of a home with children, motherhood during the Coronavirus period, longing is hard to find. Maybe the longing that is woven here between the works is mainly to the feeling of longing itself. To distance and space, and a longing for more than a moment.

Sofie Berzon MacKie

More images from the exhibition