“This Place” is the Israel Tourists Rarely See
By Skip Sheffield
See Israel not like a tourist with “This Place,” opening Thursday, Oct. 15 and running through Sunday, Jan. 17 at Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach.
“This Place” is an exhibit of stunning shots of Israel by a dozen art photographers from different parts of the world. French photographer Fredric Brenner invited 11 photographers whose work he admired to participate in an in-depth study of the Israel tourists rarely see. Brenner met with area media Oct. 14 to discuss his $6 million project, which is making its U.S. debut at the Norton.
“It is an art project,” stressed Brenner. “It is an attempt to look beyond the headlines; to see the complexity and dissonance of this place.”
In addition to Brenner of France, photographers represented include Nick Waplington of the U.K.; Jeff Wall of Canada; Martin Kollar of Slovakia; Josef Koudelka of the Czech Republic; Jungjin Lee of South Korea, Gilles Peress of France and Wendy Ewald, Fazal Sheikh, Stephen Shore and Rosalind Fox Solomon of the USA.
“Israel is a place and a metaphor; a place of radical otherness,” said Brenner. “I curated a fragmentary project of paradoxes.”
Brenner has been at work on the Israel project since 2005. Most of the images by the invited photographers were made from 2009 to 2012. Many were taken in the contested West Bank, where Palestinians and Israelis live together in an uneasy truce. There are images of the infamous wall that fences off the West Bank from the rest of Jerusalem. Each photographer had an Israeli art student as guide and interpreter, so “This Place” was not only a work of international cooperation, but of different generations.
“The (Israel) government was not involved in any way,” Brenner reveals. “Most of the donors were American. We didn’t get much (adverse) criticism, not even in Israel.”
Brenner will present a public lecture at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15 as part of Art After Dark. There is also a companion film series “Many Faces of Israel” for the duration of the exhibit. General admission is $12 adults and $5 for students with I.D. Admission is free for all Palm Beach County residents on Saturdays with proof of residency. Call 561-832-5196 or go to www.norton.org.