108 image cards – 54 black & white, 54 colored
Ronen Hirsch – The Story of Sweet Clarity
There is a small area on the wooden deck of the old Tel Aviv harbor that is shaped into a small mound, just slightly elevated above the rest of the extensive deck. It was there, on that spot, on a crowded day that I first saw Shahar. He was on that mound intertwined with another human being in movement.
I could only see their silhouettes in sharp contrast to the setting sun in the background. I was standing at a distance with a telephoto lens mounted on the camera. I was mesmerized by beautiful compositions that two people and a sun could produce. It felt like it was happening especially for me. To this day I remember wondering how the view through my camera was not interrupted by the crowds passing through.
Having been gifted with a few images I started walking away … and within a minute someone approached me. He introduced himself as Shahar and said he was one of the movers. I did not recognize him because I only saw, through the camera’s view finder, his silhouette. When our eyes met we connected, we talked very shortly and he invited me to join an exploration that would start the following week. That was the beginning of my journey into a world of improvisation performance art.
A large part of photography work is creating circumstances for images to appear. For nature photographers that may mean traveling, often many times, to a location until elements in nature align for an image. For studio photographers it may mean setting up lights and backgrounds. But in the end you look through a camera, you frame and see an image you want and you release the shutter to capture the image.
Those last steps, which seemed obvious, were not. How can I frame an image of a mover who does not know where she will next be, in which direction she will face, how she will move her body or where the lights will be? Even when I found myself in the right place at the right time, many times the gap of time between seeing an image and clicking the shutter button meant that the image was gone.
I discovered a new relationship with photography and images. My focus shifted from looking for images, to participating in a creative space. Allowing myself to be part of what was happening put me into a flow of movement that somehow … magically … led to spaces in which images appeared. On more than one occasion I experimented with taking images with my eyes closed. As I became more immersed in the experience itself I became less interested in the images stored in the camera. Sometimes, after a performance, it would take days until I looked at the images awaiting me in the camera. The experiences in which the images were born were inside me … images seemed like a lesser artifact. My wish to share images with others intensified during this period. Audiences are not present in most exploration and practice sessions. Performances are intimate and open to small audiences. I felt that these moments and the resulting images were gifted to me and I wanted to share that gift with others.
Sometimes, during performances, I had time to observe audiences. Sometimes people seemed to be caught in a kind of gaze. Their eyes were pointed at the performance space but they seemed to be looking not at it, but through it. The improvised performance became a canvas upon which they were drawing a story. In a way, the improvised performance requires creativity from the audience. Since no explicit story is provided, it is up to the audience to become co-creators by threading what is happening before them into a story. I felt this myself many times. During such moments, when I became a creator I felt what I can best describe as Sweet Clarity.
All the images in this deck were created in spontaneous moments of creativity. Images were never staged or directed. There was never an opportunity to replay or re-enact a moment to capture an image. They were usually created in photographically harsh conditions – low light with people moving unpredictably. They were moments of Sweet Clarity for me and I hope they will offer moments of Sweet Clarity to you.
I am grateful to Shahar who saw me seeing him and invited me into his beautiful world. I am grateful to the many movers, performers and creators who allowed me and my camera into the intimacy of their exploration and creation. I am grateful to the moments of Sweet Clarity and the images that chose to come into this world through me. Finally, I am grateful to Iulia for taking the time to connect with my work and for recognizing in it the potential for the deck of cards you now hold in your hands.
Iulia Sara – Introduction to Sweet Clarity
Meeting Ronen Hirsch and his Sweet Clarity work seems familiar and timeless. Ronen is preoccupied with inner work, finding a place into this world, co-creating a better world, using one’s gifts from a comfortable place.
When I first met the images of Sweet Clarity it was clear to me there is an intrinsic power to them. As the center scope of the series of OH cards, Sweet Clarity is an unbound – unwritten book, its images are full of stories that are triggered into telling and expression. I felt it needed to be in other hands, mine and yours, to be accessible and help us discover new paths to inner spaces.
The set of cards you experience now is a part of a grander work full of purpose and meaning – Sweet Clarity brings us in touch with an inner space – with something which is of a deep realm, offering us “a sense of clarity” which is “comforting, supporting and pleasant”, as Ronen says. This is the true essence of the whole range of OH sets of cards.
Ronen’s intention with Sweet Clarity is to share his work “experience with others, enjoying as they experience it in their life and hopefully watching them continuing their work by sharing it with others.”, as he shares in one of his writings back in 2007.
Sweet Clarity can get us in contact with the inner work of becoming clear about who we are, what we truly want. It offers glimpses of self-realization, precious gifts on the pathway of coming to our inner-higher self, expressing what we think – feel – believe.
We can use Sweet Clarity as is, with the self, with others, in one-to-one sessions or in group contexts. We can use it for personal or professional purposes. We can use it for triggering, opening, exploring, taking stands, collaborating, creative activities. We can use it with music or with silence, with pauses or with questions.
I am humbly grateful to be part of Sweet Clarity meeting the world in the form of a deck of cards.
May we and the ones who’ll meet Sweet Clarity (re)discover inner clarity.