Los Angeles based photographer Tami Bahat (1979, Tel Aviv, Israel) will tell you she was born in the wrong era. At an early age, she realized her curiosity and interests were more aligned with the sensibility, formality, and style of dress from the Victorian era. She gravitated to photography as a teenager, “intrigued by the medium's ability to mold the obvious into the interesting, the commonplace into the comment-worthy.” With support from her parents, who are both in the arts, she rejected the traditional path of art school and learned the history of art from books, museums and family trips, where she was exposed to the paintings of Vermeer, Botticelli and Rembrandt, whose works have had a lasting effect.
Tami Bahat’s photographic tableaus harken back to these old masters, when window light revealed quiet moments. Using iconography from the Victorian era, she assembles intimate scenes for viewers to contemplate: In The Writer, 2015, a gentleman rests his arm on a piece of paper illuminated by the flickering light of a candle; In The Dispute, 2016, two chairs sit back to back, one with a woman in profile dressed head to toe in a vintage muted colored outfit, and in the other chair sits a baboon in profile, relaxed and poised; and in The Feline, 2017, a cat sits triumphantly on a table filled with fruit, growling at the viewer, as a fish lays at its feet. Through lighting, subject matter and metaphor, Bahat’s images transport us back to an era void of technology, when simple pleasures like writing, painting, or reading was the norm.
As part of Past is Present, Tami Bahat will create various rooms styled from the past, that incorporate her vintage framed photographs on the wall. Visitors will be able to walk into a bedroom setting, a sitting room, and reading area, transporting themselves to another time when the past is present. By creating these installations, the artist invites the public to slow down and absorb the subtle nuances that exist within her work, reflecting on the quiet joys that are so often overlooked.
Image: Tami Bahat, The Feline, 2017© Joel-Peter Witkin / image courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago