An evocation of site, a remembrance of tragedy, a progression towards healing – Shai Kremer’s new Concrete Abstract series at once aims for individual and universal response to the destruction and rebuilding of the World Trade Towers following September 11th, 2001. Kremer describes his Concrete Abstract series as a means to “pay homage to America, to New York, to their trauma and their recovery.” The artist evokes the renovations and rebuilding of a once devastated sight as representative of a fresh start and ongoing therapeutic process for New York City. Like his past series, Kremer maintains “a post-traumatic gaze to the cityscape of Manhattan - and by extrapolation, to the sociological landscape of America.” Kremer combined copious images to illustrate the site’s former self as well as its years of reconstruction. In the most recent works, the Tribute in Light, a memorial installation of 88 searchlights forming two columns of light in place of the towers, brings new life to the hopeful images. The strength of the rich blue of the façade of the Freedom Tower is a testament to how far we have come in the rebuilding process. Kremer records a compelling interpretation, in which a process linking “accumulation, destruction, and reconstruction” become “the paradigm of modernity.” The zenith of that modernity, the now tallest building in the United States, is a proud symbol of our strength.
Born in Israel, the artist divides his time between France and the United States. He received his MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York, where he focused in photography and related media. As an Israeli, Kremer is invested in the political tensions in Israel – an awareness that has left an indelible stamp in his artistic production. Published as a monograph by Dewi Lewis and exhibited in Europe and America, his 2001-2006 Infected Landscapes series explored the social and environmental impact of military combat. The artist explains the project as a “metaphoric portrayal of the military disfiguration of the Israeli landscape.” Kremer’s subsequent Fallen Empires series harks to Israeli militaristic history and its impact on the land as well as former military occupants – intents that bring about questions of identity and geographic ownership. Kremer is also devoted to documenting New York’s lesser-travelled neighborhoods in response to ever changing urban contradictions.