Karni Dorell

Moving Through Time

An essay by Herbert Reichert

Notice a shadowy silhouetted figure. Small and dark, no way to tell its gender or what it is wearing. It is running and looking back. This figure represents the minimal human condition. That which connects this figure to the larger family of humankind and to the history of photography is gone. The picture has carefully excluded it.

Sentiment, social class and the fashions of the times are also out of frame. What is left, what is most obviously "in frame" is a distilled and intense humanness. A running man, a tree, a mother: they are all the same in Karni Dorell's art. They are all abstracted; they all reflect the sensations of sublimity and terror fundamental to human consciousness. They reflect Dorell's unique aesthetic of woeful and unsettled outsiderness.

Dorell has deliberately eliminated the quotidian, the safe, the sentimental, the social and the connected part of human existence which is at the core of all traditional photography. No family, no gender, no social status, no artfulness, no poses, no charm, no German school, no Yale, no beautiful, no sex, no living rooms, no back yards, and especially, no awe-inspiring flashy technology.

In addition, Dorell's art eliminates thoughts and meanings of lenses, lighting and light's reflective qualities. Instead, the images in her photos tend to remind me of a man driving a black car moving slowly in the distance. Recognizable objects in her art feel like dusty post-apocalyptic specters. The most difficult thing an artist can presently do is to hang his or her aesthetic on some sort of spiritual or ethical armature.

Yet to be enduring, art must at least allude to a higher realm. By eliminating all that is familiar and connected and safe from her images, Karni Dorell's photography reminds her viewers how blatantly we desire feelings of belonging and transcendence.

Herbert Reichert

Trees and shadows, 2011

 Bird, NYC 9/11

Bird, NYC 9/11