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On Reflection

Places That Were Not


Time After Time


Chasing Good Fortune [2010]

In May 2010 Gersht travelled from Hiroshima to Tokyo documenting the brief flowering season of the cherry blossom. He worked at different times of the day, manipulating exposure times and using both analogue and digital cameras. The resulting photographs are highly evocative of time, place and the symbolic nature of their subject matter.

The cherry blossom is deeply rooted in Japanese culture and its rich and complex matrix of symbolic meanings refer to the transience of life and to rebirth. The flower also represents forces that challenge, undermine, and destabilize our conventional understanding world, opening up new possibilities. Since ancient times the Japanese have planted mountain cherries in their gardens, along rivers and in temples, shrines, school yards, and geisha quarters. At the beginning of the Meiji era, when Japan begun its modernisation and its colonial expansion, the emblem of the cherry blossom came represent the Japanese nation and was adopted by its military elite. The fall of the petals represented the sacrifice of soldiers’ lives and flowering of the blossoms symbolised their rebirth. In the Second World War the cherry blossom was closely associated with the Kamikaze pilots. Its image was drawn onto the wings of their aircraft and in letters that they wrote before taking off on their final missions. In those letters the pilots often make a comparison between their destinies and those of the falling petals.