A symphonic spectrum

Three concerts of the Ra’anana Symphonette will be accompanied by a video art show by photographer Elinor Milchan.

Elinor Milchan (photo credit: Courtesy)
Elinor Milchan
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The audience at the Ra’anana Symphonette’s upcoming concerts (March 9, 10 and 12) of The Butterfly Lovers violin concerto will enjoy a multisensory experience. In addition to the onstage exertions of Spanish conductor Salvador Brotons, violinist Nitai Zori and members of the ensemble, they will be treated to an accompanying video art show courtesy of international photographer Elinor Milchan.
Over the last dozen or so years, 38-year-old Tel Avivborn Milchan, who spends much of her time in New York, has made a name for herself on the international arts circuit, exhibiting extensively across the United States, France and Israel.
The Ra’anana Symphonette project is not Milchan’s first venture into mixed-discipline work. One of her higher profile works of abstract photography, a multiscreen video installation based on the seven colors of the visible spectrum, called Seven – A Visual Journey of Light as a Symbol Time, was exhibited in the lobby of the old New York Times building in Times Square, accompanied by music composed by New York-based Israeli jazz trumpeter Avishai Cohen. Milchan says it was a natural fit. “I see colors when I hear music, and I love Avishai’s work. I think he is a wonderful musician, and I really enjoyed working with him.”
Milchan is self-taught and has no regrets about not following the conventional study route. Her interest in photography was sparked when she received a gift of an inexpensive camera when she was 12. “I started taking pictures with a really basic camera, a Konica.
My mother gave one to me, and one to my brother and one to my sister. Then I went off on photographic projects with my friends, and we gradually learned from each other.”
She also learned a very basic and important lesson early on. “We lived in France at the time, and I went to England and took lots and lots of picture without changing the film. Later I saw there was actually no film in the camera. That was very frustrating, but it was something I never forgot and I never made that mistake again.”
Milchan has an intriguing take on photography.
“You know everyone says you catch the moment; but for me, it was never about catching that frozen moment, it was about giving the sensation of the moment. I felt with photography that was quite a challenge because you only have that click to bring it in. With painting it’s layers of time just because of the work itself, but you don’t have that with photography.”
The wish to embrace a temporal continuum dictated Milchan’s choice of avenue of expression. “That’s why I got more and more into abstract work. I didn’t want to freeze the moment, I wanted to talk about life and bring life into the image. I wanted to give the sensation that life goes on and there’s no beginning and ending, and that particular moment is just an impression of a moment.”
All this emanated from those early days of snapping away with her childhood Konica and her determination to forge a singular artistic credo, unfettered by pedagogic tenets. “Sometimes I think it is a blessing that I didn’t go to art school, especially in photography, because I see more and more that some students are extremely technical, but if they don’t have just the right camera and lamp, they don’t know how to take a picture.”
Milchan does not let herself get bogged down in the technological accessory aspects of her craft. “I don’t even use flash. For me it is never about the equipment, it is about the art and what I do as an artist.”
As someone who does not use a flash, Milchan is very involved with external lighting conditions. “I was always fascinated by how light lit our world, by the light at dawn, whether in the city or in nature and, of course, the light is very different in different parts of the world.”
Everyday artificial lighting has also come under Milchan’s scrutiny. “When I moved to New York I was really obsessed with the nighttime lights there.
I have a whole series of photographs based on the lights of the bars and the signs and how they all reflect into one another. In those pictures you can see, for instance, how different layers of red light spread onto other parts of the image.”
The quest for the best way to convey the passing of time in a single frame led Milchan into ever more amorphous domains. “As I tried to portray that sensation of moving light, my images became more and more blurry and indirect. For example, if I did a portrait of someone, I might take the image of a person’s hand or the reflection of their face.”
Milchan’s work is pure art, without added manipulation. “I just take an image and run with it. I play with all the things that you don’t necessarily see.”
That will be abundantly visible in Ra’anana this week.
The Ra’anana Symphonette will perform The Butterfly Lovers at the Ra’anana Municipal Music Center on March 9, 10 and 12 at 8:30 p.m.