A photo taken by Haaretz photographer Olivier Fitoussi has been selected as the picture of the year by the jury that selects entries to the Local Testimony photojournalism contest, which opens Thursday evening at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv.
Fitoussi captured Likud MK Oren Hazan taking a selfie with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other coalition members after a nighttime vote on the nation-state law.
“Fitoussi’s nation-state photograph is a photo of a ‘decisive moment’ that essentially presents the faces and names behind the words written in the law, which was passed by the Israeli Knesset,” the competition judges wrote. “Just as the nation-state law symbolizes the process that Israeli society is undergoing from democratic to Jewish, and some would say from democratic to racist – the photograph presents to us the moment after the vote. This is a moment of letting go and release, and at the center is the red tie worn by the prime minister, like a ‘warning sign.’ Next to him stand MKs who support the law, like a mirror of Israeli society – some in white shirts with paunches spilling out. Opposite all of this is MK Hazan’s ‘phone camera,’ recording this historic moment like any ordinary person and hiding the possibility of ‘exiting’ it.”
Another Haaretz photographer, Emil Salman, took first place in the Religion & Faith category. Salman photographed members of the Temple Movement slaughtering a lamb as “practice” for bringing a Passover sacrifice, in preparation for the day when the Third Temple is built in Jerusalem. A photo series by Assaf Friedman depicting the work of Hevra Kadisha burial society members also won a prize in this category.
In the category of a single picture in news photography, Ilia Yefimovich of the RTR Russian state news agency won for his shot of a Palestinian youth in a confrontation with IDF soldiers in the West Bank. For best photo series in news photography, Amir Cohen of Reuters won for his photographs of the arson balloons, fire, smoke and rockets in the Gaza border communities.
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The award for photo series of the year went to Barry Talis, who captured moments of ecstasy during religious events and ceremonies in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak from 2014-2018. “This is a long-term work that depicts the freedom of worship and religion in personal and ceremonial moments of various ethnic groups in democratic Israel and the freedom in creating art,” the judges wrote. The photography was done using flash and long-exposure technique.
Ohad Zwigenberg of Yedioth Ahronoth won photo of the year in the Sport category, for his shot of soccer player Yossi Benayoun weeping after he was forced to leave the Beitar Jerusalem team. In the Culture & Urbanism category, the top award went to Asaf Kliger, for his shot of actress Tom Ya’ar removing her makeup after a day of filming.
“Photojournalism is changing these days when you have a lot of events captured on security cameras or people’s smartphones and then broadcast in the media,” says exhibition curator Ami Steinitz. “Thus photojournalism becomes even more important and unique when it exclusively captures an uncontrolled event that reveals a story that is otherwise hidden. The artistic value of photography exceeds its literal depiction of a situation, and photojournalism gives expression to a repressed dimension of the ‘phenomenal world,’ the world as it appears to us.”
In addition to Steinitz, the other members of the competition jury were photographer, artist and lecturer Uri Gershuni; director and producer Gilad Tocatly; photographer and artist Mark Yashaev; photographer, artist and lecturer Yaakov Israel; Xnet editor-in-chief and lecturer Ilan Ityzhayek; photojournalist and film director Rina Castelnuovo; Eretz Israel Museum deputy CEO and curator Dr. Debby Hershman. The board members are photographer and curator Vardi Kahana and exhibition initiator and director Dana Wohlfeiler-Lalkin. The exhibition runs through February 2.