A CHAOS OF APPEARANCES
"Forms of multiplicity and incongruity abound... We realize that the fragments are not governed by a secret unity: Charles Kane is a simulacrum, a chaos of appearances."
- Jorge Luis Borges on Citizen Kane
My work is autobiographical and references the self and identity. I use the medium of photography as a way of recording experiences, capturing moments from my everyday life to draw on physical, mental and emotional levels. I use these fragments as a self reflective diary; a way of archiving my own identity and my environment.
In my first series of photographs, I recreated scenes from my days as a soldier in the Israeli army. This series entitled ‘Views’ addresses the fine line that divides the homo-social and the homo-erotic aspects of lives of soldiers in the army. These images depict soldiers living their lives in their brotherly proximity to each other and hinted at the tensions and desires that may have existed between these young men, as they had for me during my youth in the army.
Another series from this period is entitled ‘Fragments of Life’, a series of staged images where I lead the viewer into a world of memory, conflict and trapped emotion which I experienced as an adolescent growing up in a deeply conservative and religious society.
I produced my series entitled ‘Intimate Strangers’ shortly after moving to London, a time in which I was questioning my identity and my emotions in my new life and in the city: I felt like a stranger and I recognised that Soho was full of people who were strangers to each other and who were searching for intimacy, either through a glance while walking down the street or through an encounter.
In my series entitled ‘Love Stories’ which I created over the course of several years, I explored notions of the macho and the militant versus the homoerotic in revolutionary Cuba. These notions were very familiar to me from my youth and adolescence in Israel, a time during which my confusion and bewilderment about masculinity were left unresolved. As a foreigner and an outsider traveling in Cuba, I was able to address and explore my childhood reactions to the macho world that had previously repelled and intimidated me.
In my latest series ‘Promised Lands’ I explore the concept of identity in a more abstract and indirect way. The images from this series are all landscapes and represent worlds relating to personal identities embedded in my mind. ‘Canaan’ are images from elemental landscapes in Iceland where I recognised extracts from biblical tales taught in my childhood. ‘America’ represents the promise that a land can hold to generations of immigrants, such as those of my parents. ‘Hampstead Heath’ represents a place of promised pleasure, excitement and even maybe love.
'The confusing and bewildering paradox of the masculine and militarist blended with the homoerotic in Cuba evoked my own experiences and memories of growing up in young, macho and militarist Israel (Cuba).
The experience of being a foreigner in a city full of immigrants (Soho, London, UK).
The thin line between homo-social and homo-erotic in army life (Israel).
THIS BOOK IS A JOURNEY into my inner world of memories, conflicts and trapped emotions. In my compositions presented here I try to recreate and reinvent fragments in my own life and psyche as a young Israeli, growing up in a "macho" society where feelings towards other men are often "brotherly ", physical and warm but seldom cross the dangerous line between a brotherly hug and a hug of love and desire.
This dilemma is particularly strong in the military life where the saying in Hebrew "Ani Ohev Otcha Achi" ("I love you my brother") is a normal way of greeting.
All young Israelis at the age of 18 have to join the army for three years. From your first day in the army your teenager personality is subdued by your commanders and you become part of a collective existence full of strong contradicting feelings: fears, joys, hopes, emotional and physical strain, bondage and freedom (from home and your parents), horror and beauty, sadness and happiness and ... an over activity of all kinds of hormones. You change overnight from a child to a man - a man that has the right (and the duty sometimes) to love and hate, live and die, make love and kill …
The thin line between homo-social and homo-erotic in army life can be so confusing and torturous for a gay soldier. Soldiers hug and kiss each other, say "I love you brother" to each other, sleep together - sometimes lean on each others' chests, sometimes share a tiny mattress, have communal showers where they play "boy games" like throwing water and soap on each other, sometimes share a hot shower, sometimes masturbate together.
In 1988 when I was 18, I joined the army. In a series of photos in this book I have tried to recreate the feeling of loneliness that I suddenly felt, torn by confusing emotions of "brotherly" love and sexual attraction to my fellow soldiers, by fear mixed with beauty and fantasy.
Soldiers look manly, confident and beautiful. So are the soldiers in my photos. But look at their eyes … they reveal the real feelings. A body full of beauty, masculinity and youth, when erupting with sexuality, can be misleading - the eyes tell the full story - there is a deep loneliness, a hidden forbidden passion, fear and confusion in these eyes. Can you see it?
The eyes of another lonely soldier in my army camp led me to freedom, to the discovery that I am not alone.
Following the army experience and "discovering myself", the fear and confusion still continued: fear from the first encounter with a man (answering an ad in the paper); fear of a passionate long night coming to an end; the conflict of having a relationship and living as a couple; the "emptiness" of waking up together after a night of extreme passion; the fantasy of casual encounters on the beach; the search for the hidden truth; the fragility behind the strength; the timeliness of beauty; the sadness of beauty, the endless fear behind the beauty - these are all internal conflicts that I tried to recreate in a series of photos. In some cases I even went back to the original location of my own experience and shot the photos there.
Some of the photos in this book are "stage directed" and some are "real life" snapshots. The "stage directed" ones belong to a previous period of my life, where any kind of affection between men was a mere fantasy, a dream, an "ideal". The result was some "dream like" photos, like the ones of three guys on the beach. Later on I discovered "real life" in my own life and as a result I switched to "real life snapshot" photography - searching for the "divine" in those day-to-day scenes (like the shower scene), the "divine" that is hidden in all of us and in those that surround us. This is my new direction.
I hope you enjoy this journey and find your inner self somewhere amongst these photos. Let me know if you did …