Sheffy Bleier
Garden of Organs

This group of photographs by Sheffy Bleier presents inner organs of the cow (kidneys, stomach, udder) suspended on strings.   Besides their references to the genre of game still life, and, especially, kitchen and butcher's stall still life, these photographs reflect the artist's preoccupation with transposition of the inner parts of the body (innards) into the realm of aesthetics, of fully visible beauty. That which is completely hidden, concealed, residing within the inner recesses of the body; that which for the most part is relegated to the status of  the repulsive, of "waste" even in terms of consumption (stomach) – these organs are ennobled and presented as more than fit for aesthetic contemplation. Furthermore, some of the organs are turned inside out, so that the emblem of the "inside" is transformed into complete "outside", into surface, while retaining their mysteriousness as objects of display.

Another frame of reference that remains active in those images is that of photography as document, especially the photography that serves wholly utilitarian ends, namely, police and medical photography, including medical illustrations. In particular, in autopsies body organs are carefully weighted, photographed, and, of course, analyzed for indications of foul play or simply causes of death. Similarly to the transformation of the "inner" into the "outer", the artist is preoccupied with the link between the wholly utilitarian, non-art dimension of photography, on the one hand, and the aesthetic concerns, on the other hand.

Ultimately, the question that lurks in these images is that of the possibility of reaching the sublime, the spiritual through the medium that appears wholly antithetical to it – body's inner organs. True, the organs are not "raw meat" – which borders on the horror of the formless – for they retain well-defined forms and texture. And it is precisely their form and texture – mysterious, yet troublingly familiar – that turns them into visual medium of something utterly different from their materiality. They become an "alien body", the body that offers another route to the beautifu,l that manages to escape the bodily materiality while remaining wholly embedded in it.

Jerzy Michalowicz,
Jerusalem, August 2008