Through Their Eyes: A New Look at Israel's Fringes

Roba Alfraowna challenges how Bedouin are seen ■ Eden Zornitser captures gender fluidity ■ Saja Quttaineh roams around East Jerusalem ■ Asaf Shaked revisits Kiryat Gat ■ Avshalom Halutz speaks with seven up-and-coming photographers

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Nitzan, Jerusalem, 2021.
Nitzan, Jerusalem, 2021.Credit: Eden Zornitser
Avshalom Halutz
Avshalom Halutz
Avshalom Halutz
Avshalom Halutz

Eden Zornitser

Born: 1995, in Jerusalem

"My photography looks at the body, its positioning, its relationship with the environment, the “gaze” of the subject at the camera and mine alike. I am interested in the way people choose to characterize themselves, the way they “signify” themselves, their personalities, their gender. I examine what those signs tell the eye of the observer, whether our representation or our appearance serve as “armor,” in an attempt to locate the point at which it begins to wear off.

"My project deals with a community I documented over the course of a year while developing a dialogue between us, out of a prism that examines the self as a flowing, dynamic and ever-changing entity, arising from a desire to encourage the possibility of gender fluidity – at the heart of which lies freedom of choice.

"In my media, I seek to break through the boundaries of familiar definitions to allow fluidity to become present and, ultimately, to offer an entry point of looking at a person."

Neta, Jerusalem.Credit: Eden Zornitser
Tulip and Milan, Givatayim.Credit: Eden Zornitser
Guy, Tel Aviv.Credit: Eden Zornitser
Neta, Jerusalem.Credit: Eden Zornitser

Roba Alfraowna

Born: 1995, in Shaqib al-Salam

"Over recent decades, Bedouin society has undergone social and political changes that have dramatically affected the traditional way of life and, especially, the role of women. However, photographs of Bedouin society still preserve the Orientalist and exotic perspective that is so far from the reality in what the state likes to call the "cultural landscape."

"Given my familiarity with these disparities, I chose to hold a type of internal monologue, via photography, with the environment in which I was born and raised in Shaqib al-Salam, a Bedouin town and local council in southern Israel. This debate raises questions about both my identity as a Bedouin woman and Bedouin life today.

Credit: Roba Alfraowna
Credit: Roba Alfraowna
Credit: Roba Alfraowna
Credit: Roba Alfraowna
Credit: Roba Alfraowna
Credit: Roba Alfraowna

"I chose to focus specifically on the mundane aspects of daily life in various spheres in which the Bedouin live. The adage “Necessity is the mother of invention” served as my guide in locating the meeting points between tradition and modernity. In these worlds, I identified the constraints and the coercion, but also the adaptation, acceptance and creative work that have become the reality of a modern Bedouin woman’s life. The project combines a fantastical structuring of myself as a character who embodies the paradoxes that arise when necessity encounters Bedouin creativity with the documentation of everyday environments.”

This article is featured in the September issue of Haaretz Magazine.

Saja Quttaineh

Born: 1998, in Jerusalem

"In this project, I am taking pictures of the complex structure of the place where we live in East Jerusalem and of the sociopolitical reality. I set out in the early morning to roam around and scout out a location. This is a time of day in which there is no human activity, but there are clear signs of its presence and its impact on the surroundings.

"I choose to photograph these signs during the day using a medium format analog camera. It doesn’t only involve documentary photography, which seeks to recount neglect and deprivation. I identify and photograph scenes reflecting the accumulation and intersection of various times in an area. The photos reflect the multilayered nature of a location, marked by transient objects that have been abandoned, forgotten or are still in use – cars, gas stations, signs and construction sites.

"In my photography, I isolate the objects from the surrounding daily activity and transform them into sculptural objects in the public space. It is photography that attracts the viewer’s attention to what is in the open but in the location’s subconsciousness."

Credit: Saja Quttaineh
Credit: Saja Quttaineh
Credit: Saja Quttaineh
Credit: Saja Quttaineh
Credit: Saja Quttaineh

Shiraz Grinbaum

Born: 1979, in Tel Aviv

"In 2016, the Amram Association invited photographers from the Activestills Collective to participate in documenting the testimony of families whose children disappeared in hospitals and day care centers during the 1950s. For three years, we traveled all over Israel, heard and filmed thousands of testimonies – mainly from mothers whose children’s fate remains a mystery. Tamar Maatouf died a few months ago, which reignited the debate around the missing Yemenite children affair (when infants of immigrant Yemenite, Mizrahi and Balkan families were allegedly given up for adoption in the ’50s without the parents’ knowledge or consent). I first photographed Tamar at a rally to raise awareness of the scandal in 2017. She attended every rally until her death this year."

The late Shoshana Nahshon at an awareness rally for the missing Yemenite children, June 2017.Credit: Shiraz Grinbaum
People attending a Jerusalem rally to raise awareness of the missing Yemenite children, June 2018.Credit: Shiraz Grinbaum
The late Tamar Maatouf attending a rally to raise awareness about the missing Yemenite children affair, in Jerusalem in June 2017.Credit: Shiraz Grinbaum

Asaf Shaked

Born: 1991, in Nahariya

"In my work, I roam around old neighborhoods of Kiryat Gat. My photographs are mainly intuitive and spontaneous – meaning I don’t know where I’m going or what will happen when I set out. Local Israeli photography interests me.

"I want to provide a platform for a population that doesn’t get the spotlight shone on it to the extent it deserves and contributes so much to the mix that Israeli society is. I sense that many of the people and locations I capture are on the verge of extinction: the three-story public housing blocks, the authentic Mizrahi grandmother and grandfather. These are aspects of Israel that won’t exist in the near future, and they occupy an important place in our local history books."

Alma.Credit: Asaf Shaked
Itzhak.Credit: Asaf Shaked
Lakhish Stream.Credit: Asaf Shaked
A housing.Credit: Asaf Shaked
Mom.Credit: Asaf Shaked

Dafna Amira

Born: 1997, in Israel

"The New Central Bus Station in south Tel Aviv is an architectural and planning failure that preserves chaos, yet at the same time is a vital cultural center for those who are perceived as rejects by parts of society. It is an unfamiliar, foreign environment that is detached from the familiar social order.

"Each week for the past three years, I have walked around the marginal areas of the Central Bus Station, directing my gaze to the architectural structure itself. Just as the space is shaped in accordance with the inner image of the individual imagination, that’s how I photograph the station. Like a detective during an investigation or a forensic photographer, I look for remnants of human activities in the areas around the station, or hints of their absence."

Credit: Dafna Amira
Credit: Dafna Amira
'The New Central Station' - ColissaCredit: Dafna Amira
Credit: Dafna Amira
Dafna AmiraCredit: Dafna Amira

Michael Tzur

Born: 1991, in Petah Tikva

"My work comes from an insatiable desire for adventure, wandering and discovering my immediate and distant environment. The world inspires me to use my camera to capture bits of reality from different places, landscapes, cities, people and interiors.

"Thanks to my camera, I’ve been granted access into the private lives of strangers as well as my relatives. I am using my camera as a research tool, in order to investigate my surroundings and create bonds between art and society.

"Being interested in architecture and functionality in daily life, I’m drawn to environments where new types of rules exist: spaces that stand on the margins of the daily gaze and those that “hide” as places that are far from the local landscape – a fantasy that in reality comes apart in a moving way."

'Praying.'Credit: Michael Tzur
'Hotel Facade.'Credit: Michael Tzur
'Aziz and Tiger.'Credit: Michael Tzur
‘View to the Sea.’Credit: Michael Tzur
'Swimming Pool.'Credit: Michael Tzur

*A special thanks to Mr. David Adika.

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