In the frame for a Grammy

Some of Landesman's shots for 'Her Morning Elegance' go on sale.

January 24, 2010 14:48
4 minute read.
oren lavie 248.88

oren lavie 248.88. (photo credit: )


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When you deconstruct the evocative, Grammy-nominated stop-motion animation video clip of Oren Lavie's song "Her Morning Elegance" what you're left with is 2,321 photographs that were shot and sequenced to create the sense of motion.

Now, instead of letting the original photography sit on a hard disc gathering cyberdust, the Israeli singer/songwriter, and the photographer of the sessions, Eyal Landesman, have devised a project as inspiringly innovative as the video, which has been viewed over 10 million times on YouTube - they're breaking down the motion back to its still form and selling some of the original photographs.

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So for the three days, beginning January 28, leading up to the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, where Lavie's clip is competing as a clear underdog against Depeche Mode, Coldplay and Black Eyed Peas in the category "Best Short Form Music Video," he and Landesman are going to be exhibiting and selling a select 22 stills from the video at the Burgamot Station Gallery in Santa Monica, and online at The opening night will feature a performance by Lavie

"It was clear that people liked the video, with all the hits on YouTube and the Grammy nomination. We thought it would be a nice idea to enable people to have a moment from the project," said the 39-year-old Landesman from the Tel Aviv photography studio he shares with colleague Eldad Rafaeli.

During 2009, the "Her Morning Elegance" video became something of a pop phenomena, discussed, featured and analyzed in blogs, magazines and TV shows worldwide, screened at the Cannes Lion festival, the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors' Showcase, the LA film festival, and the SXSW showcase, among others. The culmination of the acclaim came in December, when the clip received the Grammy nomination.

"We've printed only one copy of each still photograph on a high quality photo paper, and by doing so created only one 'physical' sequence of the entire video. People will be able to break the motion of the video and freeze the moment that they would like to own. Once they buy that photograph, it will be darkened in the sequence and they will become the only owners of that split second. These are the originals, and they'll come signed and with a number. Once they're sold, we won't have it anymore, it's gone," said Landesman.

The video - produced with the Tel Aviv-based husband and wife animation team of Yuval and Merav Nathan - chronicles the fantastic dream of a sleeping woman, which never leaves her bedroom, using her mattress as the canvas for the dream and her bed frame as the dolly of her journey. The photos are strung together in a seamless manner that gives the impression the women is actually moving.

"I had done some work in stop motion for a project in the Acre Festival a few years ago, but I didn't really know the term for it," said Landesman. "When I sat with Oren, Yuval and Merav, and we worked out the storyboard and the whole concept, I began to understand - I never knew it had a title.

"As a photographer, I try to capture the moment. But what happens when the moment is 100 images per second? I had to rethink a lot of what I knew and work with a timeline, and think about what was before and what's going to come after, and after that, for 2,000 photos. It was a totally different way of thinking."

THE HAIFA native has been thinking out of the box, though, ever since beginning his photography career in 1993 as a photojournalist for Yediot Tikshoret. He eventually moved on to a new agency and, by 2000, had positioned himself as a portrait photographer specializing in theater and dance.

"I didn't really like the life of a photojournalist, and when I discovered the world of theater and dance, I learned that I loved photographing those images - the illusions and the dark places. I like finding the border between reality and illusion," he said, describing his most recent project, 15 Minutes, which was displayed at last year's Avignon Theater Festival in France.

"It deals totally with the 15 minutes before the curtain goes up on a show. In Israel, it's called the second ring, but elsewhere the actors don't need to know that there's 15 minutes left. You can feel the change in the atmosphere," said Landesman. "That time period is very special. The performers are already in their stage clothes, the lighting is different - it's like the fine edge between theater and reality."

Making his living working with the leading theater and dance companies and festivals in Israel, Landesman certainly did not have a Grammy nomination on his mind when he agreed to take the photos for "Her Morning Elegance." But he's excited about attending the ceremony on the 31st, as well as the upcoming gallery exhibit.

"I really don't know what our chances are, but I'm going to enjoy it," he said.

And because he knows there are so many more where they came from, he's even going to enjoy parting with the original prints of his photography, with some proceeds being earmarked to various charities.

"It was very difficult to choose just 22 - it took us about a week. And I know that given more time, I would probably choose different frames - I love them all," he said, adding that there are plans for exhibits of some of the remaining photos from the clip to be held throughout the year in New York, Tel Aviv and perhaps more locations.

And the cost? Well, Landesman and Lavie haven't gotten around to that yet.

"We actually haven't settled on a price yet, but it won't be very expensive. The idea about pop art is that anyone should be able to own it."

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