Lilach Peled-Charny’s series of car photographs reminds me of the popular American series, Antique Pickers, in which a pair of bargain hunters journey across the rural areas of America, from coast to coast, to locate old objects that will be renovated and sold in their antique shop. As part of their travels, they visit neglected farms, entering barns that have become warehouses, where objects of all kinds have been ensconced.
When Peled-Charny and her partner David traveled the Colorado roads, they encountered old cars across the landscape – in front yards, dilapidated driveways and open fields. They weren’t well-groomed collectors’ cars, but rather colorful metal relics of rusty, mostly American-made vehicles, with weeds and even trees growing out of their innards. “The cars are both beautiful and sad. They remind us of better times, when we were young and our futures looked bright,” David says. “They provoke sadness, because their bodies are rusted and their engines are broken down, and perhaps they once belonged to loved ones who passed away before they had time to fix them up”. Every car has its own human story that nature and time encroach upon and bury, as they do for everything in history.
Peled-Charny loves how the old cars have found their final resting place in nature: “I was entranced by vehicles scattered like carcasses, both in neglected backyards and near manicured houses, and those resting in open spaces without clear addresses or owners.” Her photography is not critical but experiential. It refers to the beauty found in processes of decay and destruction, to human intervention in nature that results in strange combinations of ciphers of death and shimmers of life.
Another illustration of this can be seen in her photographs of the open-pit coal mines of the Ruhr region in Germany, which she shot several years ago. The mines have been exploited intensively for many years, leaving the area deeply scarred. Today, although excavation and earthworks continue, projects to produce alternative energy and to heal the landscape have been put into play.
A photographer is an avid collector of images. Once, these images were collected in binders full of negatives and today, in computers and digital memory boxes. One can say, therefore, that in her photographs of these discarded cars, Lilach Peled-Charny actually performs a kind of rescue operation that perpetuates a vanishing world.
Avraham Eilat, Exhibition Curator