David Adika – Of David. A psalm

October 27, 2022 - April 21, 2023
Curator: Karmit Galili

Conceptually, the face is a crossroads, a seam line, an open meaning that cannot be bound, an unsolved question. Phenomenologically, the face is, first of all, a call of sorts, one arriving from the outside, preceding any particular content, image or spectacle, any specific visual configuration. The face calls me – it addresses the I; it comes to me, confronts me before I have even taken a first step, before I have begun making preparations for a meeting, The face is one step ahead. It is an unexpected guest, a doorbell ringing al of a sudden. The face is the unexpected. Preceding from, it is all of a sudden.

Hagi Kenaan, The Ethics of Visuality 

In Of David. A psalm, artist David Adika provides a cue to the heart of the exhibition by the lyrical connotation of the title. Taken from the book of Psalms, the title questions the reciprocal relationship between inspiration and creation. Was King David possessed with divine inspiration before he spoke, or rather, did poetry come first, and only then followed by divine inspiration?  

More than a photography exhibition, Of David. A psalm, is an exhibition about photography. By photographing fellow photographers, Adika explores the passion to photograph and the exchange of gazes between the photographer and his subjects. He examines questions of representation and aesthetics, while raising thoughts about the body, society, and community as well as the ways we perceive photographs. 

Throughout his photographic practice over the years, Adika has elaborated on a visual language shaped through ethnic, national, local, sexual, and cultural identities, while also instilling his work with a recognizable personal mark. His photographs are not only referring to existing identities but also attempt to shape new ones. In Of David. A psalm, these aspects are joined by his identity as a photographer.  

The exhibition includes twelve portraits of artists who use photography in their practice. Some are his friends; others are colleagues and former students. The encounters with fellow artists transcend the final photographs taken. Each portrait embodies an encounter between different approaches, themes, and techniques. Just as in the endemic belief that something is robbed of the soul at the moment the photograph is taken, Adika asks his fellow photographers for much more than their image. He uses the encounters to debate the medium itself. Not unlike a wildlife photographer, he sets out to capture the members of his own species to learn something, from them, about his own identity. 

In addition to the portraits, the exhibition features still lives; flowers, figurines, shells, a book, a jar – transitional objects that are placed between himself and his subjects, their reflection in his own work. These objects also represent the domesticity coming into being through the photographs. The exhibition is constructed in the form of a house whose walls were pulled apart, a dismantled living unit, that not only reconstructs the space where the photographs were taken, but also creates a deceptive space where the viewers can no longer possess their own gaze, since every point in the exhibition, unfolds multiple gazes – multiple stories. 

The photographs in the exhibition were produced using a large-format camera and analogue film, with the intention of returning to the material legacy of the celluloid film and photographic emulsion. This type of procedure adds another layer of intimacy to the encounter with the photographed subjects. The ritual that is formed precisely when the photograph is taken – the moment when Adika disappears behind the camera and the subjects are asked to hold their breath and stay still – all these contribute to the richness of the portraits. There is something palpable in these portraits, something pictorial and almost three-dimensional. The bodies are rendered near life-size. Walking through this deconstructed house, the viewers find themselves close, maybe too close, to the sizable portraits, almost colliding with them: viewers are forced into a certain degree of intimacy. Suddenly, it is no longer clear who is looking at whom, with the viewer’s gaze fusing with that of Adika’s and subsequently forming a third gaze of a different kind. 

Karmit Galili
Magasin III Jaffa, Curator