Insomnia, a photobook by Israeli photographer Tami Amit (1972), presents a collection of her series that show women placed in scenes of suffering; alone or abandoned, often injured and sometimes victims of violence combined with empty houses and landscapes. The result of staged scenes, Tami Amit’s cinematic photographs refer to the dark and mysterious, in some cases even taking on the effect of a horror movie.
The book consists of work from several series, spanning 2004 – 2015. One series is prefaced by a short text from J.G. Ballard’s book Crash, describing the victim a car crash from the perspective of an observer: “She sat in the damaged car like a deity occupying a shrine for her in the blood of a minor member of her congregation… The unique contours of her body and personality seemed to transform the crushed vehicle.” What follows are photographs of the horrifying scene after an accident: two women covered in blood, one standing and the other one sitting on the ground both next to the totalled and smoking car, finding themselves in a dark forest with in the background a bright green meadow. Combined with the text of Crash, a book that attached a sexual fetish to car crashes, the work furthers the Hollywood construction of pairing sex and violence.
Another series Hotel Boutique shows a young brunette with bright red lipstick and dark black eyeliner offering an uncertain welcome, giving the viewer a defiant stare while sitting elegantly in her underwear on a large bed at a hotel room. These mysteriously staged photographs invoke sexualisation while leaving ambiguous the desires of the woman portrayed. Each image of solitude and fantasy has been given quite a lot of surrounding white space to create a focus for the viewer.
Even though each series tells its own story, it is difficult to trace a narrative when these glimpses of a body, a shoulder or a back, are followed by an empty road or landscape. Amit ties her series together through a cinematic aesthetic, and interweaving scenes of violence and sexuality. Insomnia challenges the viewer to find out what exactly is happening in these mysterious night scenes.