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The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey | Photography by Yaakov Israel

The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey | Photography by Yaakov Israel | PHOTOGRAPHERS | Scoop.it

As per the Orthodox Jewish tradition, the Messiah (the Prophet) will arrive riding on a white donkey.
A few years ago, as I was photographing near the Dead Sea, a Palestinian man rode past me on his white donkey and I took a picture of him. It was after having developed this plate that I realized that I had encountered my “Messiah”; it was this chance encounter which brought me to initiate the body of work that carries the name: The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey.

The American tradition of the great photographic journeys served as a blueprint for the initial phase of my quest, with the definitive difference that in such a small country as Israel the size of the territory in which my hunt was pursued necessarily differed from my predecessors. A condensed experience.

 

What in any other country should have been a photographic journey spanning months of continuous travelling was inevitably reduced because no matter what destination I chose it always brought me back home by midnight at the latest. As I found myself passing through the same places over and over again, the personal identity of my project was revealed to me: I had to let go of the idea of narrating the physical journey itself and concentrate on the intimate, emotional reactions that these places evoked in me; I focused on trying to understand how I was reacting to the occasional encounters with people and scenery, and how those people and the scenery appeared to be revealed or lost at the same time, as if they were part of a scene that was ever changing or not changing at all.

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Altneuland | Photographer: Amit Sha'al

Altneuland | Photographer: Amit Sha'al | PHOTOGRAPHERS | Scoop.it

About : Amit Sha'al
Israeli photographer Amit Sha'al was born in 1974 and works as staff photographer on the daily business newspaper Calcalist. He also works as an independent photographer on long and short term documentary projects. Sha'al's photographs have been featured in major magazines and newspapers in Israel. His awards include a Series of the Year in Israel's premier press-photo contest, Local Testimony. Sha'al has had solo exhibitions in Israel and Ireland and has participated in numerous group exhibitions. He is based in Tel Aviv.

 

A journey through time and place in Israel. The name of the series ("Altneuland" = Old-New Land) refers to Theodor Hertzl's book from 1902.
It tells the story of two men, one Austrian and one German, on a journey to a Pacific island. On their way, they stop in Palestine.

After 20 years on the island, they sail back to Europe and stop again in Palestine. There, they discover a land drastically transformed, showcasing a free, open and cosmopolitan modern society, and boasting a thriving cooperative industry based on state-of-the-art technology.


In the two decades that passed, European Jews rediscovered and re-inhabited their Altneuland, reclaiming their own destiny in the Land of Israel. In this series, black and white photos from 1926 to 1979 were collected and the exact spots where they were taken across Israel were located. The photos were held in front of the camera and a wider photo was taken, with the colored 2010 reality continuing where the black and white photo ends. In some places, it appears as if nothing has changed, while in others, the buildings have changed their purpose and the "black and white people" seem strangely transplanted into today's reality. The photos portray 3 different times: the old black and white photos, the present colored photos and the time that has passed between capturing both photos.

 

The third time mentioned is not a visual one, but a mental and emotional dimension, filled in by the knowledge we have of the dramatic changes that have occurred between the two times.

 

Shutter speed: 1/320 s ISO: 500 F-Stop: f/22

Focal Length: 16 mm

Camera: Canon EOS 1D Mark III

Lens: Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM lens

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