Eretz Israel Museum Tel-Aviv: A Preview of the Photography Exhibition of David Rubinger
Updated: May 6, 2020
This exhibition is a journey into David Rubinger’s memory. Rubinger was one of Israel’s photographers who mediated – between history and us - decisive moments and places. The exhibition also affords us a view of the past, taking us to the moments of hope and despair in the State of Israel. It shows a concentrated selection of photos that Rubinger captured over fifty years of creative and documentary work.
David Rubinger/ I Captured the Truth 1947-1997 Curator: Guy Raz
The exhibition will open to the public on Friday, 26 October 2018
Above: Curator Guy Raz
The photographer, David Rubinger, Israel Prize laureate for photography who died last year, was one of a small selected group of photographers whose works are etched on local and international memory. In his photographs, Rubinger, who was called “The family photographer” of Israel, displays the album of our lives.
Photo Credit: David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group. Football game between Israel and Wales, Ramat Gan stadium, 1959, Seventh on left: goalkeeper Yaakov Hodorov
His endeavor began at the end of the enlisted “Zionist photography” period, that dominated the local photographic scene from the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The new generation of photographers formulated a freer Israeli photography, as it was primarily expressed in the Haolam Hazeh weekly. The early decades of the State of Israel were characterized by a collection of photographs spanning two extremes on the human spectrum: on the one hand, a glorified picture of the new state composed of strength, military power, magnificent victories, the liberation of Jerusalem, new construction, the building of kibbutzim and revived Israeli nature; and on the other hand, pictures of the eviction of Arabs in the War of Independence and the occupation after the Six Day War, alongside pictures of new immigrant transit camps, the drainage of the Hula, and funerals of the fallen soldiers in the Yom Kippur War and more. In these years, attempts were made to keep up with what was happening in the field of photography in the Western world, through contests and imported exhibitions – among them the international exhibition The Family of Man at the Tel Aviv Museum (1958). Inspired by the photographers of the period, the photographed reportage and the idea of the “decisive moment” formulated by the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1932, local photographers attempted to capture moments that told a human story or a visual episode. This was a photograph faithful to the subjective truth of each and every photographer. The image captured in the eye of the photographer, and turned the transitory into the immortal.
Photo Credit: David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group. Egyptian President Anwar Saadat and Prime Minister Menachem Begin conversing at Aswan, following the peace treaty, 1980.
At that time, Rubinger, like many of his colleagues, took his photos with analogue reflex cameras, in other words, he never saw the image at the moment it was photographed; it is, in fact, the capture of a moment that surfaces as a memory only after it is printed in the laboratory. The image captured in the photographer’s negatives is a mediator of the truth and reality as we knew them prior to digital photography. All of Rubinger’s 500,000 negatives, kept in the Yedioth Ahronoth archives, are the sum total of fractions of seconds that he did not see when he took these photographs.
Thus, this exhibition is a journey into the memory of Rubinger – one of Israel’s photographers who mediated – between history and us - decisive moments and places. It is also affords us a view of the past, to the moments of hope and despair in the State of Israel. To this end the exhibit shows a concentrated selection of photos that Rubinger captured over fifty years of creative and documentary work. It is the first attempt to present a mixed museum exhibition of his professional endeavor – both from the aesthetic point of view and the documentary one. The choice of well-known historical photos and positioning them alongside less known photos which bear an aesthetic or political connection, seeks to express interpretations with added value, as well as regarding the photojournalist and his work as an artistic photographer as well. For example, the pair of photos, The Lifesavers at the Tel Aviv beach (1952) alongside The Parachutists after the retaking of the Western Wall in Jerusalem (1967): this meeting shows Rubinger’s heroic photographic angle which he formulated over time, the straw heats turning into soldiers’ helmets, bathing suits turning into military uniforms and combat vests, the liberal city along the sea clashing with the city of stone and religion. The five men share a look toward the horizon – a look that holds both the past and the future. From here we embark on a time journey into our past, a journey that calls for self-examination and introspection: what is our own personal truth?
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