Orly Zailer, Gidi Gilam, Daniel Rolider, Julia Gat, Lenny Dothan, Nir Arieli, Roei Greenberg, Rona Yefman, Shasha Dothan
Hanoch Levin’s musical from 1983—Suitcase Packers —was about Israel in the 1960s, and the wishes of those who are “here” to be “over there”, in some other land. The play is considered avant-garde for its time, closing generational gaps between the pioneering era—implementation of the Zionism ideology as a nationalist movement, and the settlement in Israel—and the era of the modernize-bourgeois Israeli, eager to bite into The Big Apple or even settle for a ripe banana as long as it’s elsewhere. Moving forward to the year 2022, the distance between the “here” and “there” has shrunk, frequency in transit have also increased and switching of locations have gotten easier and more flexible. All while people are still dreaming of a far-off place that will realize the possibility of success, escape, starting over, or simply easing into their despair. I have asked ten Israeli photographers living abroad (London, Berlin, New York, Vienna, Lisbon, Paris, Chicago, Los Angeles), to exhibit their works dealing with different aspects towards place, environment, nationality, identity, and being homesick.
Orly Zailer (Maoz Haim, London, Vienna) is fascinated by reproducing old un-staged images in the present time. In Everywhere she exhibits two photographs and their reproductions from her series The Time Elapsed Between Two Frames, in which she traces time gaps physical similarities between different generations, raising questions of identity and lineage differences. Part of her process includes asking the subject to let themselves be in that past moment for a short while, and to connect with the essence of the character. For example, the work 45 Years showing a photograph from 1973 of the mother—Renata Harold—seated on a green sofa in her home living room in Austria. The other photo, on the left, is from 2018 and features her daughter—Barbara Harold—who is situated in the same place, holding the same position, with an addition of props. The photo taken with a Polaroid camera adds a nostalgic flavor of the past. Zailer leads the viewer by activating them in identifying the differences between the older and the newer image.
Lenny Dotan‘s (London) array of work is about breaking social and political conventions that rely on iconic “visual contracts” of The woman. Lenny strives to reposition women and mothers as real rather than ideal and thus enables a new discourse that transcends religious and geographical boundaries. The photograph Nordic Eve was created as part of a site-specific project the artist was invited to do in Norway in 2017. Inspired by forces of nature, Lenny writes a fairy tale resembling a prehistoric local myth about a Nordic Eve: the first woman born at sea, and on arriving at the beach places herself between the rocks, in harmony with nature and with no role model or expectations about her duty. One day, a speck of dust enters her body and impregnates her. She changes and turns into a rock, then slowly another rock pushes out of her body, forming a duo. Two ideal primary objects, mother and son. The bond between them becomes so complex it forms a crack, leaving them vulnerable and naked in front of each other. No more ideal objects, but two entities facing imperfection, birth, death, and everything in between them . The artist interferes in the fairy tale, arriving at the scene she strips off her clothes, taps into nature and the rock energies, and photographs herself standing naked in the freezing cold. She creates new interpretation of Adam and Eve’s biblical story: a new woman who doesn’t need a man, but rather a woman who constructs her motherhood from the rock.
In her VILLE/MER (Home/City) project Julia Gat (Paris) talks about port cities and the visual, mutual, and unique connection between them. The merchant ships, the fishermen, the tourists, the bathers on the beach—as almost identical attributes, appearing in different port cities—indicating the connection between urban and nature. According to Julia, “The vast blue surfaces expand the heart and to me, express a sense of home, their presence is an essential aspect of my changing living environment: Tel Aviv, Marseille, Rotterdam”.
Life in its constant movement, and humans on their way between places and people. Nir Arieli (New York) captures the sense of transience in his golden dancer photograph with the “smudges” surrounding him—references to the dancers surrounding him. The focus isn’t on the bodies moving in a virtuoso manner but on the abstract liquidity of constant movement, much like life itself. The photo is part of a series taken in collaboration with the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, one of U.S. most prominent contemporary dance companies in the and collapsed abruptly in 2015. “Shortly after the photo was taken, surprisingly, the photographic encounter became a kind of visual monument to an institution that made a mark and disappeared from the cultural landscape,” Arieli said. The band, which included dancers from all over the world, migrants who had gathered together to move, suddenly found themselves “homeless” and had to look for their place in other bands.”
As always in Rona Yefman‘s work, there are no conclusive interpretations; the moving infertile absolutes are replaced by games of identity and gender, humor, pain, confusion, loss and recognition that anything is possible beyond acceptable social and cultural definitions. A clown vendor features fringe figures going for a walk in a green space. A visual moment that expresses a branched human story. A photograph of “LaStrada” by the director, Federicao Fellini, a 1954 film about the world of a clown and a muscle, a human sheet, abstract and touching.
The Twilight series, photographs between duskon the beaches of TelAviv, by photographer Roy Greenberg (London), providesan aesthetic experiencethat is the product of intuitive photography taken “on the road.” Greenberg’s own geographical boundaries and complex emotions are the place that will be his home until 2018. The photographs earned Greenburg the photographer of the year award at the 2014 WorldPhotography Association.
Shasha Dothan (New York) deals with Israeli identity, immigration and especially “complex love” for the place. Dotan sings and expresses her mixed feelingsall over Israel, her birthplace, andgermany responsible for the death ofher familyin the Holocaust, a place that today is a longing forher and for many young Israelis.
Curator – Nurit Tal-Tenne
 “Luggage packers”, By Enoch Levin. The plot of the play takes place in Israel in the 1960s. The characters live in solitude and, in time, die or pack a suitcase and fly abroad. The lyrics of the song “London”, composed and performed by Hahava Alberstein and included in 1989 on the album of the same name (London), were taken from one of the conversations in the play.
 Hebrew translation from THE CONTRACT, Dotan’s doctoral dissertation , 2019.
Exhibition Full Work List
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