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  • Talma Gotteiner

PHOTO IS:RAEL - The 7th International Photography Festival

Hi there!

The International Photography Festival, Israel’s largest photography event, has been launched this year for the seventh time. The festival has long since become a well-established art institution which welcomes thousands of visitors every year. The festival will feature 250 photographers from around the world in 40 international exhibitions as well as performances, video art, music events and more.

Festival events include: A public photography marathon, lectures and discussion panels, night events, dance and music events, gallery talks, guided tours and activities for the whole family.

WHEN: Nov 28, 2019 to Dec 7, 2019. Official opening: Thursday, Nov 28, 2019 starting at 17:00

PHOTO IS:RAEL - The 7th International Photography Festival

Clockwise from Top Left: Eyal Landesman, Founder and Artistic Director, Maya Anner, Chief Curator, in the middle Sohair Nijam, Director Hot Homes for Girls Northern Destinations and Shiraz Greenbaum Director of Social Activity Development.

The theme of this year’s festival is 'FANTASY'. The exhibiting artists will present a wide array of interpretations of the themed topic and its artistic representation, through works that challenge the boundaries between imagination and reality and documentary stories with fantastical elements.

This year the festival will celebrate five years of social outreach work using the PHOTO VOICE method, based on the belief that every individual in the community has a right to be heard. Participants in the social outreach programs come from a variety of communities across Israel: at-risk women and youth, sober addicts, senior citizens, people with disabilities, youth on the autism spectrum and more. By documenting their own daily reality, participants express their authentic personal stories and craft a direct message about the individual and the community - a message which promotes social change and is conveyed to the public through the platform of the International Photography Festival.

Exhibitions include: Fantasy, the festival’s central exhibition, will present the winners of the 2019 Open Call. Over 1,200 international artists responded to the Open Call issued by the Festival for works on the topic of fantasy. Coming from 11 different countries, 20 of these artists were selected to present their own interpretations of fantasy through photography, video and installation. For the first time this year, the exhibition will also feature works created by members of the open call artistic committee, including Yair Barak, Noa Sadka, Ayelet Haschachar Cohen, Ohad Benit and Sagit Zaluf Namir.

Meitar Award for Excellence in Photography Finalist Exhibition. The Meitar Award, a collaboration between PHOTO IS:RAEL and the Zvi and Ofra Meitar Family Fund, will be awarded for the 4th time this year to an artist whose work demonstrates originality and excellence in the field of photography. The judgement process was conducted by a panel of leading professionals from around the world, including Marta Weiss, Senior Curator of Photographs at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; Mirjam Kooiman, researcher, writer and curator at the Foam photography museum in Amsterdam, Doron Rabina, Chief Curator of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art; and David Adika, photographer and Head of the Photography Department at Bezalel Academy.

The winner of the Meiter Award will be announced at a special event during the festival and will win a $14,000 grant for the production of a solo exhibition at the 2020 International Photography Festival.

This year’s exhibition features works by 20 finalists anonymously selected by the panel of judges out of roughly 600 entries submitted from 47 countries. The jury looked for excellence in the field of photography with a focus on quality, originality and the potential to create a body of work suitable for exhibition.

Solo Exhibition for American Photographer Alec Soth. Alec Soth, one of the world’s leading photographers, will be arriving in Israel through a joint initiative of PHOTO IS:RAEL and the Galitz School of Photography. Soth will be opening a solo exhibition at the International Photography Festival and will speak at the Israel Photography Conference.

In his first exhibition in Israel, Soth will be presenting a selection of works from his iconic 2004 project, Sleeping by the Mississippi, which paved the way for his successful career as a photographer.

Soth (born 1969), a member of the Magnum Photos collective, has won numerous awards including the prestigious Santa Fe Prize and the Guggenheim Fellowship. He has exhibited over 50 solo exhibitions in leading galleries and museums across the world, including the Whitney in New York and the Jeu de Paume in Paris. During the festival, he will hold a gallery talk for the general public as well as a book signing event.

Photography Pioneers, an exhibition on the first women photographers in Israel, is the second part of a research project initiated by PHOTO IS:RAEL. The project, titled: “Israeli Photography: From Iconic Images to Contemporary Photographs”, is dedicated entirely to Israeli photography. The project’s current phase focuses on women photographers from the late 19th century to the 1970s, and their cultural, artistic and social influence on Israeli society. The exhibition offers a unique curatorial collaboration for the festival, whose staff was joined by curator Guy Raz and the artist Noa Sadka. Raz will present an academic historical review of the topic and will introduce 65 women photographers who were active during those years, while Sadka will offer an intimate look into the inner lives of ten of these artists.

Solo exhibition for the winner of the 2018 Meitar Award for Excellence in Photography, Marc Ohrem-Leclef. Leclef, a German photographer working in the United States, will present a three-year long project which has taken him to 13 different states across India. His work combines portrait photography with texts from over 100 interviews conducted in eight different languages. Ohrem-Leclef’s work examines a broad spectrum of relationships between men across many castes, religions and locations throughout India. The translated interviews enable us to read both the visible and hidden aspects of the portraits, allowing a glimpse into the mysteries of Indian culture. There is much that remains hidden in the images and texts, making this important project all the more powerful as it allows us a glimpse into intimacy and love in a new masculine reality, for India and the world at large.

Ivri Lider - Waiting for Albi Ivri Lider will present a new body of work created over the past month as he waited for his son to be born in the United States. While this is an extremely personal and intimate document, it also touches on social and political themes.

New Ways features several exhibitions of works by 650 adolescents and adults from across the country who participated in PHOTO IS:RAEL’s social outreach programs this year. Hailing from a variety of marginalized communities, participants photograph themselves and sound their own voice in order to promote change in Israeli society’s attitude towards marginalized groups. These 40 exhibitions showcase the fruits of the social outreach program and create a platform for voices not usually heard in the public discourse, encouraging their participants to take an active stance. Curator: Shiraz Greenbaum

50+ /50- : Birobidzhan - Vision to Reality, a group exhibition by members of the JDOCU photography group, documents the Jewish story in one of the most remote places on the planet, Siberia in eastern Russia. These photographs reveal a fascinating human story which is physically distant yet very close to the Jewish heart and eyes, 50 degrees above and below zero.

Solo exhibitions of leading international artists: Lindsay McCrum (USA), Txema Salvans (Spain) in collaboration with the Embassy of Spain in Israel, Alejandro Chaskielberg (ArgentinaI), in collaboration with the Embassy of Argentina in Israel, Teresa Giannico (Italy), in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute, Robert Rutöd (Austria), in collaboration with the Embassy of Austria, Michal Solarski (Poland), in collaboration with the Polish Institute, Jan Brykczynski (Poland) from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Mirjam Stenevik (Norway) in collaboration with the Embassy of Norway.

Group exhibition marking 30 years since the Velvet Revolution. This exhibition offers a selection of images documenting crucial moments in Czech history at the end of 40 years of communist regime, in collaboration with the Czech Centre.

New collaborations:

The Photography Festival Hosts The Department of Photography at the NB Haifa School of Design with an exhibition featuring a selection of video and film works by graduates of the department, focusing on themes of Exile, Diaspora and Displacement. The works will be screened at a special event, exemplifying how the recent addition of video to the still camera enables the rise of new, fresh and fascinating voices.

Solo exhibition by Basma Abu Huti, selected honors graduate of the School of Art at Sapir College who was awarded a scholarship for a solo exhibition by the The Friends of the Sapir College School of Art. Abu Huti will present a development of her thesis exhibition, advised and curated by Shai Ignatz.

The Photography Festival will offer a sneak peak at the Alternative Fashion Week, an annual event created by the energetic and dynamic cultural Tel Aviv movement Kok Schok. The Festival’s opening event will feature a special performance piece in collaboration with fashion photographers which will reveal a little of what the nighttime group has planned for AFWTLV 2020.

Popup art and photography bookshop, in collaboration with Bookworm.

Notable events during the festival: American photographer Gillian Laub will attend the festival with support from the United States Embassy and will offer several lectures, workshops and artist talks. Some of the lectures will be presented to an audience of students, while others will be open to the general public.

November 30th - Alec Soth, the festival’s guest of honor, will present a talk followed by a book signing event.

Announcement of the winner of the 2019 Meitar Award for Excellence in Photography, including a conversation between the 2018 Meiter winner Marc Ohrem-Leclef and David Adika, photographer and Head of the Photography Department at Bezalel Academy.

November 29 - Lecture by Michael Benson, Director of the Prix Pictet. The Prix Pictet is one of the most important international awards for social and environmental photography.

December 5 - An evening in memory of Robert Frank (1924 - 2019). Leading Israeli artists will talk about Robert Frank’s influence on their work.

December 5 - A nighttime event at the festival including a DJ, art and dance performances and art screenings throughout the festival.

November 29 - 4th Tel Aviv Photography Marathon - A celebration with hundreds of amateur photographers taking part in a group experience based on secret timed photography challenges. The Marathon is part of a network of similar events taking place worldwide.

The Festival is the initiative of PHOTO IS:RAEL, a non-profit public benefit company founded in 2012 in order to realize its vision of “a better society through the language of photography”, social activism and the fostering of a dialogue between art and various communities across Israel. The company offers platforms to showcase, research and highlight artistic and social topics through the language of photography. At PHOTO IS:RAEL we believe that photography is a universal language which transcends cultural and gender boundaries and is understood by all. It is a language which bridges the central and the marginal and connects marginalized communities to the public at large.

The venue for this year’s festival was carefully selected. The Azrieli Sarona Tower, designed by Moshe Tzur, is the tallest building in Israel and will showcase the festival’s exhibitions in one spacious floor.

Founder and Artistic Director - Eyal Landesman

Chief Curator - Maya Anner

Partners: Azrieli Sarona, Tel Aviv Municipality, The Polish Institute, Adam Mickiewicz Institute, The Italian Cultural Institute, The Czech Centre, The Embassy of the United States, The Embassy of Norway, The Embassy of Spain, The Embassy of Austria, The Embassy of Argentina, The Meitar Family Fund, Enosh Association, JDC Israel, ADAMA, The Ministry of Culture, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Delta, Sarona Complex, The Print House, ChromaLuxe, Tambur, Bookworm, Link Hotel, Jugend, Erlich, Lupa, Artik, Galitz and many more.

WHERE: Azrieli Sarona Tower – Enter via the Sarona Complex, Rav Aluf David Elazar Street.

Opening Times: Thursday, November 28 – 17:00-22:00 Friday, November 29 – 10:00-16:00 Saturday, November 30 – 10:00-22:00 Sunday to Wednesday, December 1-4 – 17:00-22:00 Thursday, December 5 – 00:00 (Midnight)-12:00 (Noon) Friday, December 6 – 10:00-16:00 Saturday, December 7 – 10:00-22:00

TICKETS: 58 NIS (50 NIS for early bird tickets available until November 10th) Digitel concessions are available. Further details and tickets are available on the Festival's English Website.

Best, Talma

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