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Israeli Arts, Culture & Literature: Photography

Today, photography is characterized by intimacy, restraint and a preoccupation with the self, both a reaction to and an outgrowth of the romantic, informational style which dominated its early stages of development. In the mid-19th century, local photography was based largely on providing photographic services, concentrating on the depiction of holy places (mainly Christian) to sell as souvenirs to pilgrims and tourists.

From 1880 onwards, photographers began to document the development of the Jewish community in Palestine (Land of Israel), portraying the pioneers working the soil and building cities and towns, through a heroic lens, oriented to a modern, secular ideology and the requirements of clients who used their pictures to further particular causes, such as the Jewish National Fund.

The country's development in its early years was faithfully recorded by a number of talented photojournalists, some still active today, including Tim Gidal, David Rubinger, Werner Braun, Boris Carmi, Zev Radovan, David Harris and Micha Bar Am. Crossing the invisible boundary between 'photography as documentation' and 'art photography' are, among others, Aliza Auerbach who concentrates on portraiture; Neil Folberg, Doron Horwitz and Shai Ginott who focus on nature; David Darom, an expert underwater photographer; and Dubi Tal and Mony Haramati, a team specializing in aerial photography. In recent years, as photography as a pure artistic medium has become a legitimate art form, a number of creative photographers have emerged, with the active support of galleries, museums, curators and collectors. Today's art photography is highly personal, probing questions of life and death, art and illusion, in styles ranging from the formalistic and minimalistic to the pictorial and intellectual-conceptual.

Several important venues for displaying photographic work have come into being, foremost among them being the photography biennale at Mishkan Le'Omanut in Kibbutz Ein Harod and the new Museum of Photography at Tel Hai in the northern Galilee.

Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry