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Legitimacy of landscape
A solo exhibition by Yaakov Israel
Curator: Dr. Mark Long
Opening: Friday, February 1, 2019
Closing date: Saturday, April 27, 2019
“I thought about the Palestinian villages you see along the side of Route 443 – fear makes them transparent. I asked myself: if so many people deny their existence, in a physical and psychological sense – do these places really exist? (Yaakov israel)
The Legitimacy of Landscape exhibition is the culmination of a 16 year-long project, during which Yaakov took photographs of Arab, Bedouin and Druze villages, in Israel and the Occupied Territories. It is a sort of voyage through the socio-political landscapes of the state of Israel and the Territories.
From Majdal al Shams in the north, through Beit Hanina, Judeira, and Bayt Duqu, that sit behind the wall along Route 443, to Silwan, Shu'afat, Jericho, and to unofficial villages across the Bedouin hinterland in the south, this photographic series aims to introduce viewers to the Arab villages that account for one fifth of the population of Israel. The country’s complex social and political reality has turned these villages into repressed landscapes as, for a significant part of the country’s residents, they represent the Jewish-Arabic conflict, the enemy.
The exhibition is designed to open windows onto the stories of these places, which, without these pictures, might seem not to exist. The series makes us think about places that have been forgotten in Israeli society, and prompts debate about the selective vision employed by many Israelis in order to escape reality, one way of contending with the political situation in Israel.
The photographs were made using a technique similar to that used by the landscape photographers who documented the Holy Land in the 19th century. In that way it acknowledges the history of photography in this place. That technique, which makes it possible to document the world around us in a more focused way than the naked human eye can perceive, provides a hyper-realistic rendition of these landscapes. It allows for the large-scale photographs that fill the display space, and provides visitors with a sense of the experience of standing opposite the real places Yaakov depicts. The photographer’s hope is that the images might also help us to try to cope with our fear of others, strangers and the unknown.