Saturday, January 16, 2016

EXHIBITION: from Prague to Tel Aviv to West Palm Beach to Brooklyn, striking photos of daily life in Israel and the West Bank

Opening night at Tel Aviv Museum of Art
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"Only such a spectrum of perspectives could really do justice to the
complexities and to the fact that Israel is totally un-understandable."
                                                                      ...  Sam Cate-Gumpert, Harper's Magazine

Beyond the images of strife and violence which have come to dominate media coverage of the land of Israel, this is a nation where -- despite its all-too-real schisms and paradoxes  -- the great majority of people go about their daily business quite normally: shopping at colorful outdoor markets, sharing meals with their neighbors, practicing their respective religions in peace, hanging out in cafés, living a rich cultural life and savoring the quiet beauty of their ancient landscape. This Place: Israel and the West Bank through Photography's Lens (at the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach, FL through January 17; moving to the Brooklyn Museum on Feb. 12) is a striking exhibition of both the surprising normalcy, as well as the quirky diversity, of Israel. 

Above: The Aslan Levi Family, 2010
Photo by project initiator Frédéric  Brenner
© Frédéric Brenner, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery

Weinfeld Family 2009
© Frédéric Brenner

For the This Place project, French photographer Frederic Brenner invited twelve noted and politically disparate international photographers to contribute their singular visions of contemporary Israel and the West Bank, producing a "diverse and fragmented portrait of this important and much contested space." The completed endeavor consists of a large-scale traveling exhibition, a companion catalog, and a program of live events including films, lectures and food and wine tastings.

“When what is at stake is sharing the origin, it seems to me necessary to gather a large spectrum of individuals whose origins, passions and paradoxical and contradictory perspectives could help us grasp the unbearable complexity of this place and its voices.”
                                                                              ... Frédéric Brenner

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The five images below are the work of MacArthur Award winning American photographer and teacher Wendy Ewald. For this project, she collaborated with young students and their families in fourteen communities (including Nazareth, Haifa, Jerusalem, East Jerusalem, Julis, Ashkelon and Tel Aviv) to create a collective vision of life in Israel and the West Bank. She admits that the idea of working in Israel initially "left me cold", but says after spending time in the country, and seeing for herself its vibrant multiculturalism, her attitude began to thaw.

Untitled meal at Village of Julis Comprehensive School
Julis is an Arabic-speaking Druze village in the north of Israel. When it was captured by the IDF in 1948, villagers were allowed to remain in their homes. As of 2000, the average income in the village is higher than the national average, and its high school graduation rate exceeds that of Tel Aviv. Travel writer Michael Dempster has referred to Julis as "basically the coolest place I've ever been to."

NITSAN Pomegranate on education Road
Kfar Giladi Kibbutz, Upper Galilee

MALEK | Traditional costume, Bir El Amir School, Nazareth

Above: Abstract
© Wendy Ewald

All of the photos in Ewald's  part of the project are postcard sized, and are
grouped  by the names of the locales in which they were shot.

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Below: from Fazal Sheikh's "Desert Bloom" series
(Two of 48 aerial photos of the Negev Desert)
These are areas being prepared for the planting of new forests by
the Jewish National Fund.

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Below: Family at Tekoa Gimmel Outpost
© Nick Waplinger

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from Them, Ghanaian pilgrims, 2011
© Rosalind Solomon

In 2010-11 Solomon spent five months in Israel and the West Bank,
where she photographed Jewish teenagers at Purim,
Christians at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,
and Ghanaian pilgrims at the Mount of Olives.

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St. Sabas Monastery, Judean Desert, 2009
© Stephen Shore

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This posting represents a tiny sampling of the photographs on display in This Place ...
Please check here for more info about the exhibition,
and lengthy interviews with the photographers.

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