RAFAEL Y. HERMAN @ Fondazione Sant’Elia


22 April – 22 June 2022
Fondazione Sant’Elia
Palazzo Sant’Elia | Palermo – Via Maqueda 81


It is estimated that 83% of the world’s population lives under light-polluted skies and onethird of them will never see the Milky Way. In his work, Rafael Yossef Herman [b. Be’er
Sheva, 1974] seeks out pristine locations where artificial light does not alter visual
perception, where absence can be read as a blank board. Over the last fifteen years, Herman
has developed a practice that illuminates darkness by employing photography as a medium.
Herman’s work engages in a deep and subtle dialogue with what is invisible, with a world that
does not contain or need humans. Light conceals reality, it does not reveal it. Darkness has its
own life; it traces outlines that can only be imagined, not readily seen by the naked eye.
Herman’s conceptual works search for an absolute, untouched, and unspoiled reality. In Italy,
among the few areas where natural darkness can still be found, are the Valle d’Aosta region
and the Madonie mountains in Sicily. ESSE starts from here, literally and figuratively. From a
graphic viewpoint, it is the articulation – in Italian – of a capital S. Horizontally represented, it
invokes the island of Sicily, as also an incomplete infinity sign.
After a two-year hiatus, Rafael Y. Herman opens a major solo exhibition in Palermo,
continuing an ongoing project. The artist set off in search of wild and distant places, sites that
are not polluted by light, far from cities, towns and human settlements: mountain tops, small
islands, seaside areas, and other such pristine sites. This is an entirely different Sicily, which
the human eye overwhelmed with thousands of images and external stimuli cannot see. Only
in these remote places, which are unidentified and nearly impossible to find, does Herman
conceive and execute his artworks.
The main floor of the seventeenth-century of Palazzo Sant’Elia will house a selection of
works selected to exhibit the development of Herman’s vision and give viewers an insight into
the artist’s experience during his creative process. Existing works that have been displayed in
various museums and are held in private collections will be displayed alongside a newly
created series specific to Sicily. This new series and its exhibition mark the first time Herman
is acknowledging a specific site of creation. During ESSE, Herman plans to continue creating
works, which will be integrated into the exhibition to emphasize the wish for change . A
month before the opening, a call for ideas will be launched to solicit suggestions from the
public regarding sites in Sicily that are free from light pollution.
A robust public programme will accompany the exhibition, involving figures from the worlds
of visual art, music, and ecological conservation. In keeping with the spirit of the project, the
exhibition will open with a midnight vernissage on April 22nd at 00:00 (night of the 21st) at
the Fondazione Sant’Elia in Palermo, where it will remain on view for two months, followed
by exhibitions in New York, Stockholm, and New Delhi.
The exhibition at the Fondazione Sant’Elia is under the aegis of and promoted by the Italy
Ministry of Ecological Transition, the Region of Sicily, the City and Metropolitan City of
Palermo. Selected events will be organized in collaboration with the Fondazione Teatro
Massimo and the University of Palermo.
Rafael Yossef Herman currently lives and works in Paris.

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