THE PORTRAITS OF STORIES, 1998-2008
4 video projections – 120 mn, 160 mn, 90 mn and 110 mn and 186 colour photographs variable dimensions
To date, in four chapters Esther Shalev-Gerz has developed the video and photographic series Les Portraits des Histories in France at Aubervilliers, Paris, 1998 and in the same year in Belsunce, Marseilles, then in Skoghall, Sweden, 2000, and most recently in Sandwell, UK in 2008.
In each context Shalev-Gerz asked “What story must be told today?” and invited participants to select how Shalev-Gerz’s gaze is to be directed by choosing where they are to be filmed and from which perspective, thereby subverting the relationship between the gaze of the portraitist as the subjects exercise control over their representation.
Examining how voice and image relate to the construction of individual and collective histories, The Portraits of Stories profiles ways in which divergent histories co-exist and inform our readings of a place. Between thought and narrative, the voice and listening, Shalev-Gerz questions the dynamics of whose histories should be heard and how these are to be considered and presented.
In 2008 marking ten years of the series all chapters were digitized, re-edited and subtitled into English and the new Sandwell edition shot in HD. To date this series has seen Shalev-Gerz listen to over 200 voices in a variety of settings and produce over five hours of video and several hundred photographic images. She had listened repeatedly to the testimonies of the participants in order to decide how an individual’s contribution and representation may be sequenced in relation to the other.