White city, dark days

Tel-Aviv in difficult times



Amid the celebrations of the centennial year of Tel Aviv, the first Hebrew city, we thought it appropriate to remember and remind ourselves of the dark days that loomed over the city and its residents. These grueling events had a decisive effect in shaping the character and the historical perception of the first Hebrew city.
In 1917, in the midst of World War I, only eight years after the city was founded, all its residents were brutally deported by the Turks who were retreating from the British. From the beginning of the century waves of hostility surged between the Arab and Jewish populations of Jaffa and the south of the city. In the 1920s violence and bloodshed persisted, known as the 1921 and the 1929 riots. Less than a decade went by and then the Great Arab Revolt of 1936 broke out. In the early 1940s, during World War II, Italian and German aircraft bombed the city twice: dozens of people were killed and hundreds injured. A similar catastrophe took place in 1948 when Egyptian aircraft bombed the city. In the 1970s the city was shocked by the brutal terrorist attack on the Savoy Hotel. The 1990s witnessed the violent attacks of terrorist suicide bombers, a trauma from which the city has not yet fully recovered. But Tel Aviv continues to breathe, live, develop and create, young and more vibrant than ever.

The exhibition shows photographs dating from the beginning of the century until today, which also enable its viewers to see the changes that have taken place in photography as a medium - the transition from black and white to color, from negatives to digital photography, from studio photographs to snapshots, from awareness of the presence of the camera to ignoring it, from rare use of photographs in the printed media to a plethora of images.
The photographs, documents and documentaries in the exhibition immortalize some of the events that took place between 1917 and 2005, which left scars on the personal and collective memory and vestiges in Tel Aviv's urban space.
In the State of Israel erecting monuments as a visual representative of memory has become the accepted and official way to consolidate and structure the past. The monuments that were erected to commemorate the exhibited events, serve as a fundamental and leading motif in the exhibition.
The documents and photographs that immortalize personal tragedies and stories, and the city residents' daily coping on the one hand, and the monuments on the other - all these draw a thin line between private and collective memory which appropriates the events to the needs of building a fabric of ethos and the myth.
The representation of the events in the exhibition makes it possible to isolate them from the ongoing life of "the city that never sleeps," a city that in the days of terrorist attacks made its slogan "back to routine." Over time the monuments built in the framework of official commemoration projects, with the objective of marking these traumatic events in the city's public space, become transparent in the cityscape.
This exhibition seeks to add another tier to our collective memory which constitutes a means for our natural protection and survival, enabling us to process the events and continue in our daily coping.


Curator: Galia Gur Zeev
Opens: September 15, 2009

Closes: May 5, 2010