Haaretz Photography Blog

Israeli Women, Israeli Soldiers

Just before Facebook, selfies and Instagram changed the representation of girls forever, Iris Hassid Segal took her camera to base camp 80 to portray young women in their first steps in military hierarchy.

Photographer Iris Hassid Segal portrays girls and young women, in pictures, at different stages along the construction of their personal identity. By putting puts an emphasis on their body language, on their look, their attire, their gestures and their poses, she investigates the effects that Western culture, the media and social networks have on the representation of girls in various photographic series.

This series of female Israeli soldiers was taken at two sessions during their basic training course at base camp 80 in northern Israel in 2007.

Though it was taken before the outburst of smartphones, of the social networking phenomenon and Instagram, the series was shot just as reality shows made their first impact on performance and self-representation in Israel.

"These girls are the heroines/anti-heroines of my project and they gave me the permission, the privilege and the opportunity to enter their world," Iris Hassid Segal said. "The scenes are documentary: They collaborate with me in their personal moments and the series focuses on the relationship between performance and photography."

Throughout the training, the commanders inculcate the conscripts with "Zionism" and with loyalty to the State of Israel, culminating in a ceremony where every soldier shouts the words "I swear" while holding a weapon and a Bible, while a moving tune is sounded in the background, heightening the level of excitement and commitment.

In these works Iris Hassid Segal attempts to reflect on the photographic representation of female Israeli soldiers in photography and art and to raise questions and thoughts about war, military service and the place and part of women in the military hierarchy in Israeli society, showing the absurdity and alienation it embodies.

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