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Wendy Ewald: At Home, photograph by Amal

Wendy Ewald (American, born 1951). At Home, photograph by Amal, Negev Desert, 2012. Archival pigment ink print mounted on aluminum, 53/8 x 678 in. (13.7 x 17.5 cm). © Wendy Ewald, all rights reserved

Wendy Ewald: At Home, photograph by Amal

Wendy Ewald (American, born 1951). At Home, photograph by Amal, Negev Desert, 2012. Archival pigment ink print mounted on aluminum, 53/8 x 678 in. (13.7 x 17.5 cm). © Wendy Ewald, all rights reserved

Wendy Ewald (American, born 1951). Untitled, photograph by Oshik, Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem 2012–13. Archival pigment ink print mounted on aluminum, 538 x 678 in. (13.7 x 17.5 cm). © Wendy Ewald, all rights reserved

For This Place, Ewald collaborated with fourteen communities to create a collective portrait of life in Israel and the West Bank through participatory photography. These pictures capture the unique character of each community, and allow us to see life in Israel and the West Bank through each photographer's eyes.

Jeff Koudelka: Wall: Israeli & Palestinian Landscape 2008–2012

Josef Koudelka (Czech, born 1938). Detail from Wall: Israeli & Palestinian Landscape 2008–2012 (Shu'fat refugee camp, overlooking Al 'Isawiya, Jerusalem), 2008–12. Pigment print, 3278 x 100 in. (83.5 x 254 cm). © Josef Koudelka/Magnum Photos

Koudelka's photographs document the separation barrier dividing Israel from the West Bank. His somber, striking images present a panoramic portrait of the wall in every aspect, including checkpoints, agricultural gates through which Palestinian farmers must pass to access their land, razor wire, and graffiti.

Frédéric Brenner: Ruth Chaya Leonov-Carmely, Nechama Weitman, Pnina Leonov

Frédéric Brenner (French, born 1959). Ruth Chaya Leonov-Carmely, Nechama Weitman, Pnina Leonov, 2010 Archival pigment print, 1834 x 2358 in. (47.7 x 60 cm). © Frédéric Brenner, courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York 

Brenner's project is a pungent and compassionate representation of life in contemporary Israel. His photographs observe the tyranny of roles in this conflicted society and its cost in human terms, in estrangement from intimacy and shared humanity. Every picture is formally definite, and each true to the human condition and the legacy of the region's turbulent history.

Nick Waplington: Untitled

Nick Waplington (British, born 1970). Untitled, 2008–13. Chromogenic print, 18 x 22 in. (45.72 x 55.88 cm). Courtesy of the artist. Copyright © Nick Waplington

Waplington photographed more than two hundred Jewish settlements in the hills of the West Bank, combining family portraits with images of the natural and built environment. He was particularly fascinated with the problems and contradictions of the settler movement—especially among immigrant families that had given up comfortable lives to dwell in the contested region.

Jungjin Lee: Unnamed Road 003

Jungjin Lee (Korean, born 1961). Unnamed Road 003, 2010. Archival pigment print, 40 x 7815 in. (102 x 200 cm). Collection of the artist. © Jungjin Lee

Lee's photographs of the desert landscape, with their stark, melancholy beauty, reflect the conflict and tensions she felt while working in Israel and the West Bank. Many focus on solitary objects in nature: a tree, a truck, or a bale of barbed wire. Others revel in unexpected patterns and textures: the grid of a greenhouse's irrigation system or the radiating veins of pale dirt upon a dark and rocky ground.

Martin Kollar: Untitled from the series Field Trip

Martin Kollar (Slovak, born 1971). Untitled from the series Field Trip, 2009–11. Color print, 2712 x 4138 in. (70 x 105 cm). Courtesy of the artist

Kollar's pictures explore how Israelis prepare for an uncertain tomorrow—through war games, medical experiments, and technological innovation. While we may recognize familiar elements in his work, there is often something in them that appears off or “crooked,” to use Kollar's word, confounding our understanding of what we see. Like fragments from a lost film, they hover between reality and fiction, mystery and paranoia, the ordinary and the absurd.

Rosalind Fox Solomon: Jerusalem

Rosalind Fox Solomon (American, born 1930). Jerusalem, 2011. Archival pigment print, 16 x 16 in. (40.6 x 40.6 cm).  © 2011 Rosalind Fox Solomon, all rights reserved

Solomon's photographs testify to the diversity of the people she met while traveling through Israel and the West Bank via commuter bus. Her emotionally intense photographic approach creates a vital and complex collective portrait of the region.

Stephen Shore: St. Sabas Monastery, Judean Desert, Israel

Stephen Shore (American, born 1947). St. Sabas Monastery, Judean Desert, Israel, September 20, 2009. Chromogenic print, 36 x 45 in. (91.4 x 114.3 cm). Courtesy of the artist and 303 Gallery, New York. © Stephen Shore, all rights reserved

Shore's approach to photographing Israel and the West Bank, a region he called “impossible to comprehend,” was to employ a varied range of techniques to capture its troubled, complex beauty. Shore's photographs are highly observant and poetic in execution, inviting us to note the ways in which history is enduringly present and woven into the very fiber of the region.

Jeff Wall: Daybreak

Jeff Wall (Canadian, born 1946). Daybreak, 2011. Color photograph, 9412 x 12425 in. (240 x 316 cm). Courtesy of the artist

During his first visit to Israel in October 2010, Wall came upon a group of Bedouin olive pickers sleeping on a farm near a large prison in the Negev Desert, where this traditionally nomadic Arab people has lived for centuries. Wall returned for the next harvest in October 2011 to recreate the scene, but with one change: he photographed the olive pickers at dawn rather than sunset.

Thomas Struth: Har Homa, East Jerusalem

Thomas Struth (German, born 1954). Har Homa, East Jerusalem, 2009. Inkjet print, 5812 x 7234 in. (148.6 x 185 cm). © Thomas Struth

For This Place Thomas Struth concentrated on subjects that had long defined his photographic practice—portraits, landscape, architecture, and technology—yet he also took on the challenge of making pictures in this specific region of conflict. Without telling a literal story of places and people, Struth’s subtle photographs reveal how personal feelings of anger, love, fear, faith, and doubt are shaped by public history.

Fazal Sheikh: Latitude: 31°21’7”N / Longitude: 34°46’27”E

Fazal Sheikh (American, born 1965). Latitude: 31°21’7”N / Longitude: 34°46’27”E, from Desert Bloom, 2011. Inkjet print, 201/2 x 283/4 in. (52 x 73 cm.). © Fazal Sheikh

The aerial landscapes exhibited by Fazal Sheikh form part of the series Desert Bloom, which explores the traumatic legacy of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Flying above the Negev Desert, Sheikh photographed sites of existing and former villages of the Bedouin, a traditionally nomadic people who have lived there for more than five hundred years.

Gilles Peress: Contact Sheet, Palestinian Jerusalem

Gilles Peress (French, born 1946.). Contact Sheet, Palestinian Jerusalem, 2013. Installation view detail, overall h. 12934 in. (341 cm). © Gilles Peress

Gilles Peress documents the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on everyday human lives in his photographs of Israel and the West Bank. As in his past work from conflict zones in Northern Ireland, Rwanda, and Bosnia, he uses photography as a means of understanding reality, beyond the media’s calculated presentation of social and political situations.

This Place

February 12–June 5, 2016

This Place explores the complexity of Israel and the West Bank, as place and metaphor, through the eyes of twelve internationally acclaimed photographers.

Featuring more than 600 photographs by Frédéric Brenner, Wendy Ewald, Martin Kollar, Josef Koudelka, Jungjin Lee, Gilles Peress, Fazal Sheikh, Stephen Shore, Rosalind Fox Solomon, Thomas Struth, Jeff Wall, and Nick Waplington, This Place offers not a single, monolithic vision, but rather an intricate and fragmented portrait, alive to all the rifts and paradoxes of this important and much contested place.

Between 2009 and 2012, the twelve artists spent extended periods in Israel and the West Bank, free to approach their subjects as they chose. They travelled throughout the region and engaged with a remarkable variety of individuals and communities. While the exhibition presents twelve distinct perspectives, several key themes emerged, such as family, identity, home, and landscape and the environment. At the same time, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is impossible to ignore and leaves its mark on many of the images, often in ways that are not immediately apparent.

The exhibition challenges viewers to go beyond the polarizing narratives and familiar images of the region found in mainstream media. The result is a deeply humanistic and nuanced examination that reminds us of the place of art, not as an illustration of conflict, but as a platform for raising questions and engaging viewers in a conversation.

An illustrated catalogue, published by MACK, accompanies the exhibition.

This Place is organized by Chronicle of a People Foundation, Inc., New York, and the tour is managed by Curatorial Assistance, Pasadena, California. The exhibition was curated by Charlotte Cotton. The Brooklyn presentation is organized by Cora Michael, Associate Curator of Exhibitions, Brooklyn Museum. For more information, visit the This Place project website.

Support for the Brooklyn Museum presentation is provided by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, the Joseph S and Diane H Steinberg Charitable Trust, the Bertha and Isaac Liberman Foundation, Michèle Gerber Klein, The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, Jerome and Ellen Stern, and the Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Exhibition Fund.

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