Yaakov Israel: The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey18. Jan - 13. Apr 13 / ended Impressions Gallery
As recent events demonstrate, Israel and its surrounding territories have been an area of contention and dispute since the country's establishment in 1948. In this timely and highly relevant exhibition, Yaakov Israel takes us on a geographical and metaphorical journey across this complex land, offering one man’s viewpoint of the nation that shares his name.
The exhibition’s title was inspired by a chance encounter with a Palestinian man who rode past whilst Yaakov was photographing near the Dead Sea. The photographer says, ‘It was only after developing the photographic plate that I realised I had encountered my ‘Messiah’: in Orthodox Jewish tradition, the Messiah (the Prophet) will arrive riding on a white donkey’.
Yaakov’s large scale meticulously detailed images encourage us to appreciate the multi-faceted political and social state of this contested region, offering us a highly personal insight into spaces often overlooked by the world’s media. His images evoke an incomplete utopia: an abandoned, overgrown swimming pool in the Northern Judean Desert indicates long standing neglect, whilst a disconcerting armed presence at the Dead Sea Hilton reveals the tension now commonplace in this landscape of uncertainty. Yaakov’s images are filled with allusions to barriers, both physical and metaphoric, which serve as a constant reminder of the unsettled and indeterminate nature of the country itself.
Elsewhere, Yaakov reveals the peace and tranquility that also exists, with images of everyday occurrences such as gathering herbs in Haifa, or a moment of solitude bathing in the Sea of Galilee. These sights appear so idyllic one would be forgiven for not realising that beyond the frame, a deep-seated conflict rages on.
Exhibition courtesy of Margaret Street Gallery, London.
Yaakov Israel (Jerusalem, 1974) lives and works in Israel. He graduated in 2002 from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem and has since taught photography at some of the most prominent art and photography schools and colleges in Israel including the Bezalel Academy. His work has been the subject of solo and group shows and he has exhibited in museums and galleries internationally including galleries in the USA, Italy and the UK. Yaakov Israel’s photographs have also been featured in international journals, including TIME LightBox (USA), Photo District News (USA), hotshoe (UK) and PRIVATE (France). The photographer was recently awarded the PHotoEspaña Descubrimientos (New Discoveries) PHE12 Award (2012) for The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey, where the jury panel included Impressions’ Director Anne McNeill. Yaakov is represented by Margaret Street Gallery in London and Oslo8, contemporary photography gallery in Basel.
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