Shechunat Hayeelim (The Ibex Neighborhood) - Eretz Israel Museum

Shechunat Hayeelim (The Ibex Neighborhood)

This exhibition is the first in a series of social photography exhibitions that draw inspiration from the photovoice approach, which will be displayed at the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv. In the spirit of this approach cameras are distributed to people in different communities; they will document the environs of their neighborhood. The photographs will be exhibited before the general public together with explanations, and will express personal emotions and social ideas; they will promote discourse on personal and public issues which will reach policy-makers with the objective of effecting change. The exhibition well reflects three marked strengths of photography: the ability to show a multitude of viewpoints of life and the environment, capturing the “decisive moment,” an expression coined by Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the important figures in 20th century photography, and the presentation of a selection of works that manifest ideas and emotions.

The documentary endeavor presented here starts out with a photographic project carried out by the residents of Shechunat Yeelim (the ibex neighborhood) in Arad, as part of the activities of the Arad Keshet Group, whose objective was to encourage change and improvement in the neighborhood together with the residents. The buildings in the neighborhood, which was established when the city was established in 1964, are condominiums with patios and public spaces designated for parks, playgrounds, benches and more. Over the years the buildings deteriorated, the gardens were neglected, and disrepair reigned. The apartments’ value depreciated, and soon a diverse population arrived on the site, most of which was impoverished, composed of families and single people, old timers, new immigrants, and asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea. The participants in the photographic project were curious and yearned for knowledge and gladly accepted the task of attempting to bring about the enhancement of their neighborhood and a change to its image.

One of the project’s participants, Aviya Tennenbaum, who recently passed away, well expressed the essence of the project, and the exhibition is dedicated to her memory. “It is to feel that you are in an environment with kind and friendly people with good intentions. It gives so much confidence. It seems to me to be the right way – becoming involved in activities that create awareness and reciprocal reinforcement.

Guests are invited to look at the photos and raise questions about the power of photography in general, and its use as a motivating force for the individual and society: what is the power of that single eternalized moment? What is the overt and covert message in the photo? What are the objectives and subjective components in the photo? What is that thing that creates identification and emotion?