Depth of field - Beit HaGefen Art Gallery and the Photography department Bezalel

(18.3-30.4.2016, Gallery Beit HaGefen, Arab Jewish Cultural Center, Haifa)

Ariel Hacohen, Aron Paz, Bar Sharma, Barak Rubin, Eli Singalovski, Hanna Qubty, Lihi Binyamin, Maor Milshtein, Maayan Reichan, Neta Levin, Noya Franco, Nili Prag, Shabtai Pinchevsky, Rami Mimon, Yaakov Israel, Yael Efrati,

Curators: Dr. Dor Guez and Yeala Hazut

Friday, March 18th 2016, 12:00   
The exhibition will be opened till Saturday, 30th April

Gallery opening hours:
Sunday to Thursday 10:00-15:00
Friday and Saturday 10:00-14:00

Gallery Beit HaGefen, Arab Jewish Cultural Center, Haifa
2 Hagefen St., Tel: +972-4-8525252

More information about the artists and press release (scroll down for English)



It seems that from the moment of its invention, photography has been used as a means for establishing power relations and control by constructing and imprinting events in the collective memory of communities and the private memory of individuals. The photographer’s work is often perceived as an “objective” action, one without an author or a cultural context, while the photograph is defined as an image that “captures reality.” In this day and age, when we all share both the “photographed event” and the “event of photography,” the camera has become a key player in the cultural, academic, scientific, political, and social arena. However, the prevailing interpretive approach still wishes to decipher photographs by looking and reading “what is seen” in them. The uncontested status of this outlook often stands in the way of a discussion about what is hidden from the lens, and what is left outside of the frame.
The exhibition presents a range of works that explore monolithic approaches and categorical thought vis-à-vis questions of identity in the national domain of the State of Israel. This is another tier in a yearlong academic process at Bezalel Photography Department, at the core of which lies the perception that photographers have a responsibility to promote thought/practice that opposes imposed orders that mark “the other” as someone one should oppose. During the last academic year, the department explored these subjects through an ongoing discussion surrounding the term “mixed cities.” There are several cities in Israel that fall under this controversial category, and these often pride themselves on being “multicultural” cities. Even though around the world a “mixed” or “multicultural” city is defined as a city whose demographic composition includes different religious, national, and ethnic communities, in Israel, a “mixed city” is defined as a city that includes different national groups, specifically: Arabs and Jews. The definition of the city as “mixed” does not reflect a municipal decision for managing the city’s multiculturalism. On the contrary – in many cases it points to religious and national purism, since the cultural arena in Israel often serves as a battlefield between different groups. 

The debate unfolded in discussions, courses, lectures, workshops, exhibitions, and collaborations between institutes, culminating in a dedicated seminar held in Haifa in collaboration with Beit HaGefen – Arab Jewish Culture Center. The seminar included workshops and meetings with Haifa based photographers, architects, artists, and social activists, focusing on the numerous conflicts created by living in a “mixed” city: the tension between the particular and universal, urban renewal and gentrification, multiple identities versus political oppression, a multinational reality in a single national state, mixed city versus a shared city, and more. Alongside these, the seminar also brought to the fore questions that touch on the practice of photography: what is the role of the art world in the process of shaping collective memory in Israel? How can we produce a new horizon of looking and resisting? Can we step up and meet our responsibility towards the other? How can we take an active action as the producers or consumers of culture?
These issues gain further poignancy in Israel, where despite the fact that most of its Jewish residents are descendants of immigrants, this ethnic diversity is not always reflected in mutual respect and enrichment. The multicultural test, a test of acknowledging the identity of different groups that wish to have a distinct identity within the state, is a dual test manifested both in the minority group’s relation to other groups, and in the tolerance of the majority groups towards the needs of minority groups. Realizing the full potential of photography as a medium that can offer narratives that encompass the history of all citizens (and non-citizens), will be a testament to the maturity/failure of Israeli democracy. If the students – the artists of the future – will make good use of the platform that photography provides and realize the full potential of this possibility, the weight of the narratives they offer will be measured against the considerable weight of the narratives presented in official museums and public display venues.