OBSCURA 2016: Memories of The Immense Night

By Leonard Goh (freelance writer/Singapore)

Alisa Resnik challenges us to revisit our memories through her body of works, and at the same time interprets night in her unique photography language

Humans have long been fascinated by the night, and photographers seek to examine and capture the mood and feel of night scenes, and interpret in their own visual language. Alisa Resnik is no exception. The resulting work is titled The Immense Night, which was exhibited at 145 Lebuh Victoria, George Town, Penang for the OBSCURA Festival of Photography 2016.

We have to make a note about the exhibition venue. Nestled in between colonial shophouses, it’s easy to miss 145 Lebuh Victoria. In fact, the non-discerning visitor may pass it unknowingly, and it doesn’t help that the space isn’t a typical gallery. From what we can gather, it looks like an empty shophouse that lent its presence to Resnik to amplify her works.

Stepping into the non-airconditioned shophouse, we were confronted with bare brick walls with peeling paint, and prints mounted onto them. Resnik’s The Immense Night immediately stood out, contrasting its dark tones against the beige surface.

Walking around and looking at the prints, the photos take on an atmospheric and cinematic look, as though they are stills from a movie film reel. According to Resnik’s artist statement on The Immense Night, “These images materialize into projections of your memories and start living their own lives. They tell the stories for you, the stories you might think you’ve seen with your own eyes…becoming part of you, and you’re sentenced to return to them again and again.”

With that intention in mind, we allowed ourselves to be absorbed into Resnik’s works. Looking at the shaky, out of focus shots interlaced by the sharp photos, we can’t help but be reminded that this is how memories are like; sometimes hazy, and sometimes we construct our own false realities to cope with impending situations.

The Immense Night also invoked a feeling towards memories, that they are nestled deep within the mind, only waiting to be engaged and projected into the mind’s eye to be replayed.

When we left the exhibition, we felt as though we are closing a door in our memory, shutting them away till the next time we are able to conjure their imagery up again.

Leonard Goh

Leonard is an advocate of photography in Singapore and also an educator in this field. He has served as senior writer for the now-defunct CNET Asia, before moving on to working for various camera companies in the business development and marketing capacities. He is also a co-founder of Platform, a not-for-profit photography initiative in Singapore which also published Twentyfifteen, a collection of 20 books to commemorate Singapore’s Golden Jubilee (SG50).

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