Saturday, March 14, 2009

Adi Nes Exhibit at Contemporary Jewish Museum

Field trip today for First Exposures; we went to the Contemporary Jewish Museum to check out the current exhibitions.

Adi Nes, "David and Jonathan." Via artnet.com


The big one to look at was Adi Nes's "Biblical Stories." From the Contemporary Jewish Museum exhibition description:
In Biblical Stories, Adi Nes, who lives and works in Tel Aviv, re-tells the familiar stories of the Hebrew Bible. Using cinematic techniques, and referencing iconic works in the history of painting and photography, Nes' rigorously staged photographs add new layers of complex social commentary to our understanding of these stories, and of Israeli life today.

In this public program, Adi Nes will explain the techniques he uses to create his multi-layered images, and the reasons he chooses particular images as part of his commentary on contemporary art and identity.

It was a pretty powerful exhibit; I think I was able to separate the photography from the perspective because I'm just not as familiar with Old Testament stories. One student did mention that she was offended by the interpretation because of her strong religious upbringing. It was pretty understandable; the relationship of David and Jonathan being viewed as a homosexual one is definitely controversial.

Since the students are doing documentary photography this semester, the program organizers thought it would be good to not only have examples of documentary photography, but documentary photography with a very clear perspective of the subject. In other words, photography isn't really truth, but what you choose for it to mean. I think most of them got that, but it's a difficult thing to teach. As a photographer, you learn to photograph "what's really there," but the point that Yoni (one of the mentors) made is that even by taking a photo from a particular angle, you are making a judgment about what to show. And that's sometimes difficult to reconcile with my ideal role as a "truth-teller."

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