Façades (Diptych)

A façade can refer to a physical site or to its camouflage. The word carries a double meaning: it can reveal or hide evidence, sentiments, historical facts.

An archival photograph, sometimes cropped or reframed, is set in counterpoint to a recent color photograph of a place that is not clearly defined by any emblems, but is rather an impressionistic snapshot, a memory trace, of a place or an object somewhere in Europe. The specifity of the archival photograph, recounting an event all but filed into oblivion by time, futility and necessity, is confronted with a seemingly banal landscape. The facile seductive color of the contemporary photographs are given the same weight as their archival counterparts. The starkness and treachery of the archive is set off against the warm innocence of the present. Thus we the spectator must conduct this time-travel by ourselves, making links and analogies between an image from a historical past, and one from the presumed now. In this way the work jars us, questions about specific memories are mediated by our desire to escape into the fluid present.

“Façades are ambiguous in that they reveal and conceal simultaneously. They can mirror the character of a building or, as mere surface renderings, express something entirely different — something that has nothing to do with the inner life of the object. At first Edward Hillel's Façades are aesthetically impressive images of photo art. Their content and representation of reality retreat behind a magical, almost surreal general effect; it is the aesthetics of color, light and composition that achieve this effect… Edward Hillel’s works deal with the artistic generalization of transitory moments and aspects, which the artist understands as key scenes to the comprehension of past and present. Sometimes dramatic, sometimes meditative, but always highly suggestive images grow out of varied and complicated processes of elaboration, such as the repeatedly changing photo and video takes, positive-negative alienation, projections, digital color manipulation, wide angle distortions and dissolved images.”
— Dr. Stephanie Endlich in “Edward Hillel, Fragments: Berlin/Weimar”,Gedenkstatte Deutscher Widerstand Verlag, 1999

“That is why, in both the urban and architectural settings (the Façades, with their divided, composite, stratified, or superimposed images), and the Faces that bear witness, memory is always invoked in the present. Such is the strange power of time, where "the banality of evil” comes to the surface in a flash. It is the artist’s job to introduce procedures and devices that distance and neutralize the past, making it present but unlocatable, in the internal, miror-like brilliance of the images. As with Resnais, the cartography of time is mental, and the architecture of memory always seeks to make an event come alive in and through the layers of the past. Between shadow and light, true and false, it issues forth from the uncertain time of a darkened and blurred image like that of an emaciated corpse, now raised up and become an “Angel of Stones” (Ange des pierres, Façades no. 23)".
— Christine Buci-Glucksmann, Artpress, December, 1999

Prague National Gallery Installation

Photographs and reflective mylar
mounted on aluminum