victor ben tzvi – israeli women

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Victor Ben Tzvi

Israeli Women

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ISRAELI WOMEN is a photo-poem in developing stages about western woman in the modern cultural climate; a dialogue between the phenomena and the abstract feminine essence. The project is not a candid documentary work uncovering the phenomena through personal stories. In fact, my sitters are Personages – synthesis of their authentic characteristics and thematically attributed narratives. In a way, the Personage becomes an idealized figure, reflecting my imagination and their own rarely exhibited self-perception. Through these vibrant photographic masks, i want to simultaneously represent motives of woman glorification and women disposition in modern society.

Our eclectic cultural ground, with existential tension, a largely superficial use of overwhelming information, lead us to a complicated and at times absurd positions. The position of modern woman is not immune from complexity either. Some fighters for women freedom disregard the notion that motherhood is at least as feminine as the most powerful man-like career. Others trying to isolate woman’s sexuality from women, although few women who would not like to be femme-fatale, or at least attractive by instinct. Paradoxically, during those loud and barking tones, women became not only plain sexual objects, but consumeristic dolls selling skinny sex  with anything at hand. Sometimes, it feels as though women freedom became a matter of dogmatism and demagogy, rather than liberal rights and beliefs. Other times it feels as though the feminine grace and charisma is getting either faint or rare. By the way, “charisma” translates from greek as “god-given-gift”.

In my current projects, including the Israeli Women, I have adopted a position of “idealism in art”. In practice, I am not looking to literarily express my criticism of psychological, social, and philosophical aspects of human affairs in the contemporary western culture. With in-depth studies of the beautiful and the ugly, I prefer to suggest an alternative view referring to the themes that fascinate me. Instead of typical escapism or pessimism, I believe the idealistic attitude emerges an insightful and positive understanding of our eclectic cultural ground, allowing richer personal and collective introspection.

 

Bio:

Born in Georgia (USSR) in ’77. Repatriated to Israel with my family in ’90. Formal education in Politics and Philosophy with a Master work in Epistemology (Genuine perception and cognitive content formation).

During my academic studies i become interested in photography, especial in Black and White medium, mastering this traditional art and craft. Participated in the international photo-festival in Europe (Estremoz, Portugal 2007).

Currently, I live in Israel and develop several photo-art projects – among them Israeli Women and Israeli Landscape (the selected project for support by the Israel Lottery Council for the Art and Culture).

 

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Victor Ben Tvzi

 

Editor’s Note: Please only one comment per person under this essay.. Further discussions should take place under Dialogue..

Many thanks… david alan harvey

117 Responses to “victor ben tzvi – israeli women”


  • Don’t like it. Don’t have a clue what this is. But I do know the artist’s statement is the most overblown bunch of BS I’ve read in a long time. IMHO, of course.

  • I totally agree with Jim over the artist’s statement. Though I really enjoyed the pictures, especially the quasi-self portraits. I think spend more time on the pictures, less on trying add value to you work by calling it “idealism in art”.

    It’s a neat piece which reminds me of Helmut Newton but with everyday women instead of supermodels. I say keep it up but stop trying to tell us what your pictures are about, let them do that for us.

  • Pretty nice pictures, HORRIBLE artist’s statement. I realize English is your 2nd language but I dont see any language issues there. The issues are something else, completely.

  • Well, many times Burn make me to think…

    I don’t know why… I really don’t…
    why at the beggining of the 21 century almost everything what photographers do have to be or is named PROJECT
    Just like here… a series of very good portraits of women… beautiful Israeli women. But probably it’s not enough to be published in Burn, not enough to exsist in pohotographic world…
    It just can’t be series of photos of women it have to be a PROJECT
    “a dialogue between the phenomena and the abstract feminine essence”
    brobably it is “a dialogue between…. etc”
    But I have impression it must be “a dialogue between….”
    It can’t be just series of portraits…
    If you are photographer you can’t just taking pictures… you have to made a PROJECT!
    You can’t just go like that at the end of the world and taking great pictures because you breath and see and… just live…
    no, no, no
    You have to make a project of it…
    A PROJECT.
    I dearm about a PROJECT I will make on sri lanka. I don’t have a clue about what it could be, but if I will come back with pictures I will figure out something. If I don’t nobody will wanted see my pictures and publish my pictures and talk about my pictures, because I didn’t made a PROJECT.
    Only projects could survive!
    If you are a portrait photographer you just can’t take a pictures of humans souls. You have to make a project of portraits of human sould.
    started-…
    complited-…

    Victor

    I really love your portraits, there are very sensitive, very good visually.
    But I treat them as a collection of individual images.
    There are deep if I see and think about them singly.

    But I understand why you put it as a project… of something.

    Great work.

  • Simply terrific portraits. Strong and very sensual. Originality and unity. And as I am not a person
    who is fond of portraits in general, I rarely see something compelling as here.

    Very small comment: only 9 doesn’t fit for me in this series. But that’s little detail.

  • Well done portraits. I like the style. I am also not sure about the artist’s statement and I speak bullshit.

    10 out of 22 of the portraits are of the same woman. Is that really necessary?

  • Agree with most of the above. Let the photos speak for themselves.

  • Victor, your portraits are strong, many of them compellingly so. I agree with Kristof that #9 does not work here — it looks like an ad for Hasselblad. And perhaps in this edit we could have fewer portraits with the camera center stage. To my eye, #17 is the strongest of the “with camera” images.

    There is a film noir quality to your work, a sultry quality that feels very ’50s. This is especially seen in #10. I am most taken with the portraits that tap into a poignancy that feels very authentic, not put on for the camera. #7 touched me in that way. In that portrait the environment was every bit as important as the woman. You might want to explore that way of working, ie., environmental portraiture.

    Regarding your artist’s statement, I know how hard it is to put words to visual images. Often the less said the better. Let the images tell the story.

    I look forward to seeing where you go from here. Keep pushing the boundaries, Victor. You are off to a wonderful start.

    Patricia

  • Beautiful photographs.

    Unecessary text, especially the word ‘Israeli’.

  • SHABAT
    SHALOM….
    #16
    sexy
    and
    seductive…
    strong
    emotions….
    would like to see what you’d do
    with multi media….
    and
    color…..
    and
    military…
    ***

  • Hi Victor,

    I think there are some really strong portraits here and you just need a tighter edit. I agree with Patricia that your work has a film noir quality to it and I like the high contrast. I also agree that there is too much of the same woman, which might be okay if you had even more women and they were spread out. My tighter edit would be 2, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14 or 16, 18, 19, 21 and 22. I especially like 10 and 22. I also agree that the artist statement is one of those statements trying to be what it thinks an artist statement should be, and believe me I am having a heck of a time with mine…..not easy. nice portraits.

  • Some really well made classical portraiture here. Three or four of them are glorious.
    For me it became more about the camera and the technique though. I kept seeing that, instead of the work. And I certainly could not decipher the statement. Is it for real? Are you toying with us?
    These are at the end of the day mainly ‘classic’ portraits that could easily been taken anytime in the last fifty years(thats a good thing in my book, by the way),and the use of any statement of intent, let alone the one used, just baffles me.
    john

  • These pictures do not fit on my screen making it very difficult to enjoy looking at them and impossible to see them properly. I can see they are beautiful pictures of beautiful women though.

    I might as well add here that the captions in this format are also always difficult to find and read. And I find the slideshow a bit clunky. They take a long time to move through though perhaps that’s the slowness of loading the pictures on my computer.

    Victor, your statement is very difficult to understand. It’s too complicated. And in the end, I am not sure I like your stated intentions, though that takes away nothing from the pictures themselves.

    I gather what you are trying to do is create and show an image of your ideal of woman. This idea is of woman as feminine but not domestic, always sexy and creative too,(since you’ve told us these women are poets and involved in artistic professions). This is your idea of the best that modern woman can be. I am glad that not all photography of women is of this sort. I’m very glad for the diversity. Idealism can be oppressive.

    I think it would be interesting to see what you would do with the same project about men as a sort of self-critique of your own project.

    “I rarely see something compelling as here.” I think Kristof means “really” not “rarely”.

  • One more of the opinion that most of the portraits are nice, sensual and well executed, but you should definitely delete the artist statement.

    Good work in any case.

  • Love how you see women! Love how you love them..good hair days, bad hair days, younger, older, littler, bigger..what a refreshing change of pace from the romantic, idealized versions in ¨Improbable Dreams¨..i feel like this was my reward for wading..er waiting through the last one. I haven´t read the artist statement, don´t much care what the hell you have to say with your mouth. Just what you have to say with your eyes and your heart. To you, women rise up out of the earth, dirt still under their fingernails and do a mambo strut forward and back, side to side..getting tattoos, doing their hair, taking care of business, kids, men and themselves..or not. Maybe some of them don´t. but one thing we know absolutely for sure. They´re the real deal. And you love them just the way they are, were and will forever be. And for that, I LOVE YOU!

    Kudos!

    Kathleen

  • Congratulations for appearing on Burn Victor.

    I love portraits in general, and I like some of these photographs a great deal, but have some reservations.

    The high contrast is not serving you well. Unfortunately, many young photographers fall into the trap of thinking that if a little contrast is good, then more must be better. There are times when high contrast is appropriate, and it works. This is not one of those times. The images just look blocked up and chalky (and I’ve looked at them with three monitors)

    Many of these images would have looke so much better with a fuller range of tones. Your subjects are gritty enough without you having to re-inforce their grittyness with contrast. The abbreviated tones supress rather than re-inforce what you are trying to convey. I hope your prints come off better.

    Good black and white negatives, and good print quality are very difficult to achieve. It is too easy to over-develop, and make overly contrasty prints, and then claim you really wanted them that way. If you really know how to make a great conventional print, but prefer this chalky blocked up look that is fine. However if it is just because you don’t have the skill to make a better print, or simply don’t know any better, that is another matter.

    Your artists statement, well, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that it suffered a great deal in translation. I did manage to navigate my way through it and think I have a tiny inkling what you are getting at. Just try to use plain language please.

  • hi all…

    thanks for your comments, i appreciate your feedback and criticism, especially constructive for me since the project is in developing.
    i will answer first a few interesting issues, and then go back to the “artistic statement” issue too.

    1. @ katheleen. U Do Not need to read my artistic statement. u already get to the most essentials of the work. thanks for your words, im glad to hear it here too, as this is the frequent response from women who are more or less the “audience and subject” of this works and many want to take part in it too.

    2. @ gorgon l. i have to admit here that the photographs are Draft scans from negatives, no photoshoping etc. on my monitor (mobile mac, adjusted), it looks ok-acceptable, but ive seen my website from other computers, and sometimes blacks and whites were really blocked and photos looked weird.
    being a master printer (silver gelatin, and also some other alt processes like lith), the prints will look great once i do them, with a bit of eccentric contrast, but preserved rich tones etc more or less as u described. maybe once i do those silvergelatins i will rescan them from the smaller size prints. it will look much better for sure, although i cannot help with monitor differences. this is the drawback of the internet vs physical print, but from the other hand, an easy compromise for the many things internet gives us.

    3. @ andrea c. u outline a point which is very important to me. Ideal-Isealism is a very tricky word indeed. i was seriously considering not to use it at all. the problem is already at its main origins – Plato’s philosophy where this term was mixed all the time between “idea” as scientific deductive thinking of “universals” resembled in the physical world, from one hand, from the other hand “universal” as the ultimate source of truth and justices (consequently coming to plato’s politics, and stayed in politics and religion ever since). so, i agree with u, “idealism can be oppressive” easily.
    But… i hope it is clear that in any way, i do not suggest a view as though my work and thought is the ultimate and the only acceptable perspective. it is my view, an alternative take on the theme – how i would like to see things, yet, others are welcomed to suggest their imaginative and insightful take on the subject in their works. honestly, i dont have patience to think if and how bad things are and then criticize it in one way or another in my work. there are so many people dealing with similar agenda from the critical and “negative” side, documentary or otherwise, some do it well some less. alternative view, with a bit of ideals and even romanticism is more fascinating to me, especially since i hold a camera in my hand, passionate and being able to give things an aesthetic tune. with all the media we have today, i think it is time that artist at least rethink their working attitudes.
    also, im openly saying it, the work is my perspective as Man. i do not pretend myself to be a Woman or an Almighty wisdom.
    as for how women “should be” – domestic, sexy, artistic – whatever each woman wants. “ideally”, there is no need for stigmas and their contra-stigmas – old fashion career woman vs domestic modern woman, or any other mix of definitions…

    4. @ marcin luszowsky. “why call it project etc”…. agree and dont agree with u, at the same time. in each photograph my attitude is singular – very much the way u say. i do have a general idea of what i do in this project, and even particular concepts, but a lot of weight is given to the authentic issue – the singular, the passion for photography and the direct inspiration for the subject as individual etc. Yet, it is the “project”, or call it a “body of work” if u wish, that creates something synergetic from those individual works. i agree with u regarding your feeling, but i do think something new should come from the coherent collection of works. it is not necessarily a plot, or some didactic line that governs along the lines. difficult to explain, but maybe some spirit across the work, changing but continuous.

  • Vic your work would always have a place gracing my walls ……….

  • back here… so now about the “artistic statement” …

    except two times that members clearly state about their discomfort with my text (complicated, and asking from plain language), i dont hear anything constructive… just a “rant” that the text is “not appropriate”. well that doesnt impresses me much, but i do take notes for myself, and that is also important to me cause the text is fresh, and looking ahead for later developments of the project.
    personally i do like it, and i stand behind every word and idea presented there. whethere it is written well is a different question. anyway, at the moment i dont have a better alternative brewing in my mind.

    so what is Bad about this “artistic statement” ? i am asking it and seriously want to understand the critics in deeper sense.

    it is also interesting that members put too much weight on the text, or so i feel from the comments. this text is not a description of the work, or a guide to interpret it. it is just a companion to the work, reflected some of my general thoughts about the theme. in fact, i do not want to get into the essence of the work through text, cause this should come only from the experience one has from seeing the photographs, and this door should be open freely for the viewer.
    up untill a couple of weeks ago, i didnt even have a statement about this project, and even now, it is far from being the primary thing of my work.

    meanwhile, lets put things on table…

    the text is not made in a common manner. that alone is good.
    it is not exactly modest, which alone is also good – i want it to be art work (photos) so better i will be of sharp and bold opinions, even if it is not “ultimate truth about this or that” but more like a dialogue.

    also, throughout the “rant”, the issues and themes i present in the text are not addressed at all… could be understandable if the text is not clearly written. but if it is readable, i think the ideas presented there and challenge of the text that climbs to higher trees and hills is more interesting for discussion than simplistic faded ideas and narrow explorations of the any theme of the work. a bit of unrestrained philosophy doesnt hurt.

    so what are the themes in plain language:

    i am interested to create Personages in my work, on the thin line between the real person and the narrative/motive i “articulate” to it. in other words, the photographs are equally about what a woman is and what it is not (and i or she would like her to be). again, beyond the aesthetics, this is the tension that especially interest me.
    i dont care about documentary work here. first and foremost because im more passionate to work in the way i described above.

    moreover, i think in photography we are in a tricky period generally speaking:
    1. it comes to docu work, we are full of new media, now information exchange etc… it is time to rethink what the docu photography is and how it is positioned in this landscape. the great magnum masters are one of the sources of my love to photography and they are still inspiring to me… but taking their path literarily is a bit less relevant today, they simply worked in very different context, both historic and technological (media etc). i know they become ideals we younger want to follow (i include myself here too), but something new should come. emulating them is not the best thing now, doing reportage is not enough and inspiring cause we are full of them fighting for a single second of attention on tv/internet/etc…
    2. the other side of “imaginative” photography becomes so distant from pure photographic essences. actually it should be called graphic design, or picture design etc … it has very little to do with photography in deepest sense – not like that made by koudelka or like that made by penn to take a couple of fine models of this art and craft.

    in perspective of “photography” this is what my first passage means.

    next, second passage; the aggressive superficial mainstream feminism is a bit disgusting sometimes. i think we “should be mature enough” already about women place in society, preferably, really liberal in our thought. in order for a woman to be equal in society, she doesnt have to give up on her feminine essences, while at the same time having commercial figures as models of feminine nature. the thing is about being liberal and not dogmatic – let the woman decide what and how she want to be a modern woman, physically and mentally, without those Stigmas etc.

    next about the “art and idealism”. my response to AndreaC (#3 in my previous comment) + the tricky period in photography – above…
    quoting my words “art and idealism” as semi-silent criticism doesnt tell me much, and of no value for discussion about this serious issue.

    and, i would defenetly prefer if people spend time on looking my photos rather than being concerned about immediate impression from text. i Am a photographer. as for the text, if some time is spent on it, then at least open a discussion if it really interests u :-)

  • Vic post it in avalon discussion part so people can respond. It is one comment each here for us mortals unless you allow otherwise

  • imants, i hope david is ok that i took initiative to post twice (now third time)…
    i really welcome a discussion on my works here too, but it is up to david to decide such thing.
    (then, let me figure out how to manage discussion on burn if david wants to keep the policy of one statement per person).

  • Mine was open as I asked it to be so

  • victor, it’s up to the photographer. If you want to open it up, I’m sure that wouldn’t be a problem with DAH.

  • I love the photographs for its intenese direct eye contact. They actually make me think about Paris, in a way… There’s a nice retro rock’n'roll feeling through it. Adore especially #10 and #20. But I find the essay in itself hard to comment because the artist statement is confusing. From the text I get an impression that you have tried to remove personality from the portraits (you talk about masks), but from the images I see lots of personality, although a very glamourised one. Don’t want to focus on this too much though. What you have created is beautiful and simplistic, so please let the simplicity shine through your words/motives as well in the future.

  • VICTOR…

    you have the freedom to comment when and where you like…and if you want others to do likewise, that is your choice….you are the author…

  • imants and jim … i will inform david about it rite now.

    bjarte… seems u sharply point out to the emotions im putting, and im glad they are transcended to the viewer. like Paris-spirit (as though ideal, or a bit of berlin too), like the tension between the authentic directness and the narrative mask, or like the simplistic attitude (purely photographic as i aspire) without overly illustrated frame etc…

    also, somehow reading u comment i kinda realize what is one of the things that might be wrong about my text … if it was a finished project, like a book already, then those further developed texts could be there for additional insightful read etc… but here it is in the front line, whether i intended or not, simply because it is an artistic statement and a bit dramatic too. and in a way, it is competing rite with the first photo, especially for people that do not ignore text semi-automatically.

    wendy, the member, commented about military issue (of woman service in army during the period when actually a elder girls become a young women). others asked why i call it “israeli”, and i agree that majority of the work is simply a western culture woman. but there are nuances that as israeli especially interest me (not only the military issue mentioned by wendy).
    this together with your Paris-like is one of the themes i would like to explore as a dialogue later on in my work.

  • oh david … i was just about to email u about it… but here i have your answer already …

    Yes, every one is welcomed to join the discussion as much as they like …

  • Victor

    Good to read your responses here, and thankyou for opening the discussion, I miss that aspect of Burn.

    I’m very glad to hear about the quality/contrast issues and that you are in fact a master printer. I would love to see some prints, or at least scans from prints. It is unfortunate that these draft scans do not do the images justice and that you chose to submit them in that form. Images made for web viewing should not recieve less attention than images destined for the wall or print publication. More people probably saw them here than will ever view them in a gallery.

    Besides the blocking up, there is a smearing of detail which is particularly un-fortunate in the eyes. Rollei negs can provide so much more and it would give the images so much more power. I do tend to be a bit anal and nit-picky when viewing work here on Burn and have criticized others for lack of attention to craft.

    Thankyou for clarification of your artists statement in plainer language. That helps. As does the Kathleens delightful comments, as well as some of the others. It appears that translation/syntax contributed to some of the reaction here. The artists statement is a touchy subject around Burn. Not being a writer, I hesitate to give you any advice other thatn my ordinary language suggestion. I’d love to hear Bobs advice here.

    A photo-poem, like word poems, sometimes requires the reader/viewer to do a little work to appreciate. There is always the surface of the piece, then, if you persist, more.

    Good stuff here Victor

  • Victor

    I am so grateful to you for opening this thread to multiple comments from the same person. It is Sunday morning here in Costa Rica. Sunday mornings are not just like any other mornings. There´s coming down from Saturday night. There´s waking up and not being where you expected to be or cursing to yourself that you are exactly where you expected to be and wish you weren´t. There´s anticipation for the day that lies ahead, for its possibilities, unexpected surprises or a grinding repeat of last Sunday and the Sunday before. So, with this hole in the week of days that i owe to everyone else, i looked at your essay again and……….was………..again………..thrilled. Even more than last night. I felt empowered MYSELF to be who i am and charge out into my day with the confidence that no one can do what i do better than i can.

    Your photos…the tension, the energy, the sexual charge, femininity trumpimg drudgery, the essence of life being not in its commerical trappings, but in its rich details, the miniscule moments and intimate exchanges..it´s all there, this passion within you to say this stuff that you feel emotionally but also intellectually, your acceptance of this rich and vital fact that eludes young people. Well, wow, it´s just a heady rush of good natured warmth mixed with strength, personality, attitude, love and unlimited potential.

    I am a little sorry that so many are hung up on your text because i think that when photography speaks this well for itself, words are redundant. Sometimes photos are visually beautiful but superficial or else weak in message, completely lacking in depth and/or irony. The viewer is left wondering…And???? Is that it???? Perhaps it is because the photographer is not passionate about his subject, doesn´t dig too terribly deep within himself to express his own inner conflict or yearnings or anger, or whatever. Perhaps he´s just there documenting an event to inform the audience and any investment in self would be superfluous. That´s when text and captions provide the missing piece for the viewer. But when the work is this powerful, this personal and the subject matter this rich, warm, sensual and intelligent well i think for the viewer it is like hmm..being handed an open travel pass and 10 days to enjoy it. Who needs an explanation or an itinerary? Just pack your bag and go.

    And so to you again, i say thank you. No need to respond, Victor..just had to say it this morning.

    Oh yes, please ask those beautiful ladies in your photos to stop smoking. That hurt me each time i saw it..it´s not sexy, it´s not tough, it´s weak and sad.

    best
    Kathleen

  • Gordon

    ¨A photo-poem, like word poems, sometimes requires the reader/viewer to do a little work to appreciate. There is always the surface of the piece, then, if you persist, more. ¨

    YESYESYES!

    hugz
    kat

  • Since you asked for advice, or at least more explicit criticism, on the text, I’ll try to help out. I should note that, in general, I am one of those people that don’t think any kind of artist statement should be required. If a person wants to do one, fine, but I usually prefer to let the photos say what there is to be said.

    That said, After reading all of the negative comments, I was very surprised to find that I liked the essence of your statement. Once I got past the first sentence, it made good sense and I was impressed by the thought you’ve put into it and the standard you’ve set for yourself. The problem is that if one doesn’t think real hard about what you’re saying, it appears to be a lot meaningless gobbledigook. That’s because when text includes phrases such as “eclectic cultural ground” and “existential tension,” it almost always means the writer has no clue what he or she is talking about. Not always, and yours is a counterexample, but that’s the assumption most readers are likely to make.

    So first off, my advice (as a former English comp teacher, for whatever that’s worth… okay, not much), is to lose the first sentence. At the very least lose “in the modern cultural climate.” It is wordy and doesn’t really say anything. You can move “modern” before “western women” and convey the idea much better. And I don’t think “phenomena” is the word you want to use. Even if you are using it correctly, this is a great example of where plain language would work much better. Just use “real” of something equally straightforward if that is what you mean. I also don’t think “personage” is correct in the context you’re using it. Icon would probably be a better choice. Or some other word that means “representative.”
    I like the concept of “synthesis of their authentic characteristics and thematically attributed narratives” but would suggest you find a simpler way of saying “thematically attributed narratives.” Perhaps “narratives imposed by the photographer?”

    I think the second paragraph is very good content-wise but needs more ESL-type cleanup than I can go into here. I’ll just say you should find a more straightforward way of communicating what you mean by “Our eclectic cultural ground, with existential tension…” As I mentioned above, that’s the kind of verbiage that cause people to roll their eyes and stop reading. Too many poor thinkers write like that. What do you mean by eclectic? Or existential. Perhaps in this case, you’d be better served by using a few more, albeit simpler, words to express those ideas?

    The third paragraph suffers from all of the above problems and the solutions I’d suggest are similar. Here’s a quick, simple edit:

    “In my current projects, including the Israeli Women, I am not looking to express my criticism of the psychological, social, and philosophical aspects of contemporary western culture. I prefer to suggest an alternative view, one of “idealism in art” instead of the common escapism or pessimism. [succinctly explain what you mean by "idealism in art" here]. I believe this attitude can provide us with an insightful and positive understanding of our diverse cultural practices and give us an opportunity for both personal and collective introspection.

    Maybe that doesn’t entirely express what you mean, and it could still use some editing, but I think it points you in the right direction.

  • Wow, Michael, I’m impressed.

  • Victor – this is so sweet. I love the contrast, the shadows, the beauty, the innocence, the ‘in your face’, well…, almost everything. When I say almost, I like to be able to read a story from the visuals presented in the essay or composition. I often comment here the written word is usually where photographers don’t do so well (there are notable exceptions). I read a couple of lines of your accompanying statement and admit it didn’t grab me so I haven’t finished it (apologies but it was too hard work). BUT, for me I don’t need words to explain it. It is strong and powerful and intimate and beautiful. Well done. Creative work and most worthy. Best wishes.

  • 1. @ michael webster… thanks a lot for those advices and observation. it is so helpful that i feel the text will be tuned much sooner than i thought. i do want the text to be challenging and insightful, but from the other hand, i dont want the effect that leads some people to initial impression of overblown kitsch statements by mistake or by difficulty to read it.
    i feel u really point out here a good balance with your critics and samples. will work on it very soon.

    2. @ kathaleen … no need for response, i will just say that those photographs are done in order to evoke the emotions and thoughts u described. your words are not just compliments to my work, this is the REWARD.

    3. @ gordon l. i am so much with what u say that i feel a need for a short excuse.
    true, i also feel a better scan etc is important for proper presentation.. i simply dont see a way to improve it substantially until i make the real prints, so here and on my website is the compromise which doesnt make me feel comfortable cause i want people to see those photos as best as possible on the net too.
    now i will talk from “light-table and loupe”…
    as for contrast theres absolutely no problem while examining negatives. i develop them myself with all the accuracy and control of the process…
    as for details-smearing and rolleiflex… i think i know what u mean – part of it is the low resolution home-made scan that doest look any good at bigger than 700 pix on apple monitor, or a 5×5″ print.
    another part is optical issue and it is mostly intentional. the roleliflex lens (the most recent planar 80/2.8) is probably one of the bests ever made in any format any time. technically, it holds great even against the latest digitally oriented medium format lenses from mamiya, schneider and hasselblad, and aesthetically, there are very few lenses that have such a grace to them (to photos with them). yet, i really love to use them wide open too, say from f/2,8 to f/5,6, and many times with rolleinar-I mounted for close portraits etc. the focus plane and sharpness is rarely an issue, but even then, the very limited depth of field blurs and softenes almost everything in the frame except the particular point of focus. i do like this selective focus in terms of aesthetics.
    but again, with the selective focus, low-res, limited tonality etc, i just feel a little uncomfortable with the compromise that what is seen is not the really the intense silver prints in my manner (or at least scans from them for the net).
    …any time soon.

  • I think it beautiful. I love the use of high contrast….and I can see this series being one of David’s favorites.

  • Victor, although I think your photographs are beautiful, I do not respond to them the way Kathleen does. They have a similar effect on me to fashion photography, that is to say, your personages, or characters (which is correct English translation though you should be able to use the french word also) make me feel inadequate. That is the effect of idealisation, the ideal woman your pictures tell of. It is the effect of the role playing you and your sitters have created. I did understand from your statement what you meant by most of the terms as I have been exposed to a little philosophy. I am aware of the recent trends that started with the long history of idealisation in art and then the postmodern flip to the baccanalian and then a turn back to something more grey or nuanced. That said, I think your more fictional pictures are a return to “objectification” of woman. The nuance comes from having other images mixed alongside which are more natural but I don’t think your fictional representations show us anything we haven’t already seen, John Gladdy noted. They may not be found in the pages of fashion magazines, but then they never were.

    From the point of view of a work in progress, the project as it is so far could be handled with two images per person: one a standard portrait and one a fictional portrait (with not so many cameras featuring). To make it more subtle you could have them not sitting side by side on the gallery walls but all mixed up. But I probably shouldn’t tell you how to make your work.

    What i meant when I suggested you turn your camera on men, was subject men to the same idealising treatment as you have done to women. Then you may understand better the problem with your pictures, as I see it. If you were to do that, we would not see empty gay God-like representations of men we see in fashion magazines, but more your Cary Grant and Robert Redford swash buckling heros of last century. Yes your aesthetic strikes me as evocative of ideas of women we know from film. Your women are “characters” – personages – mainly from the past – the tattoos spice it up a little. Your men would be too. A combination of the natural and the fictional. I personally would like to see more of the real in your work, less of the fictional, though the latter are very seductive.

    You write of your work as an antidote to the desexualised feminist woman. I think it’s really what your work is pitted against but where I live we don’t see much of “the aggressive superficial mainstream feminism” unless perhaps you mean in music videos (which I don’t see much of). My society has already moved past the hairy arm-pitted feminist of the 1970s, if you are referring to them, and I suspect most of the western world has also. It seems to me your image of woman is essentially as a sexual creature. Take away the sex and you find women aggressive and disgusting, (again unless you are referring to images of women in music videos). You say it’s just your personal take on the matter. Of course that is what men were always doing when they represented women, just showing us what they like.

    (I hope this makes sense. One of the things about writing on the computer is the mixed up result I get from the editing process.)

  • And now I am just going to comment on your statement. Michael makes a lot of sense and I am sure his explanation is true of the way most people have responded to it. But I didn’t give up and I still found it difficult.

    A solution to “thematically attributed narratives” would be “role playing”.

    I would say that your intellectualisation is not the only problem. I think there is also a language problem because I find that complication I mentioned earlier showing up in all your posts. At first I thought it was your way of thinking but there are too many words used oddly for that to be the case. KITSCH is one, I think you mean overblown “cliches”. Others are – “SHARPLY point out” (clearly); “TRANSCENDED to the viewer” (transmitted or conveyed perhaps); “overly illustrated FRAME” (no idea what you mean by frame, context perhaps); “universals” “RESEMBLED in the physical world” (represented). Generally if we take our time, we can get a reasonable grasp of what you mean but when it happens often and on top of the other problem, its just not clear what you are trying to say. I think it would be nice to encourage all non-native English speakers to get their statements edited by a native speaker before publication on Burn. Just as I think it would be a good idea for all us native speakers to have a second person look it over and alert us to any unnecessary bullshit, grammatical errors, poor choice of words and readability.

    About artists’ statements. (I write this bit not purely for your sake.) Yes you should know that on Burn statements are often perceived as a problem. The problem is not limited to Burn either. Artists’ statements are just difficult and most artists, apparently, stuff them up. (I had that on authority from a head curator of a state art museum).

    I personally like to read artist’s statements. I read yours after looking at your work, not before. And I appreciate that artists’ statements, when their aim is to articulate artistic intent, and possibly in most cases, are secondary to the work. But if you don’t write about your ideas, you will still probably have to talk about it at some point. As you know, people don’t just send off their images, or images of their work in the case of other mediums, to curators, grant granters, clients and editors without any accompanying words – be they written or spoken. Most pictures we see in most contexts need words to convey what the pictures can’t do, or don’t do easily. Words enrich our experience of art. I think people’s rejection of words is just intellectual laziness.

  • - some really strong and deep portrait, some nice fashion shots in between…But why this… I am style doubting…also “modern” and “western woman” is a non sense to my point of view, the tittle also “Israeli”, nor if you like to show a certain sadness and fearness,…, on that you succeed, fashion in between are not at their places;

    - also this is not modern at all and all this occur in middle east country, est is far to the west to my eyes. Because of the living condition of your neighbour surviving in Gaza at less than 80km, you should try to think about a document and artist statement… or take a radical “imaginary direction and on that erase that word “israeli” make it only poetic not politic..

  • Enjoyed your portraits. Good job.

  • “I think people’s rejection of words is just intellectual laziness.”

    And yet again, ouch…

    Perhaps not “intellectual laziness” but merely a preference to allow the photographer to speak through his photographs alone whenever possible. I cannot believe that a purely personal experience with and an appreciation for the complexity of a successful piece of art, whether it be a painting, sculpture, photograph is any the less intellectual for the lack of accompanying text. In fact, i think an obsessive focus on the written word can only diminish the viewer’s personal experience. i do not need an instruction manual to appreciate Victor’s work in the slightest. Nor any other worthy photographer that i can think of. An exception to text providing a rich enhancement to a body of photographic work was James Agee’s forward to Helen Levitt’s book “A Way of Seeing”.

    “SO FAR, I have avoided any attempt to discuss the “meanings” of the photographs, feeling that this is best left as an affair between the pictures themselves and the reader. By less direct means I have tried to furnish the chance reader who may feel that he lacks it, enough suggestions about such pictures as these, that he may go on to their full enjoyment without further interruption by words. But because I realize that we are all so deeply caught in the tyranny of words, even where words are not needed, that they have sometimes to be used as keys to unlock their own handcuffs, I have tried, from here on, to give a more directly suggestive paraphrase.”

    and…………

    “As I H0PE the reader will have found, before reading this last section, the photographs can speak much more eloquently and honestly for themselves. It is hoped that in some degree this introduction may have served not only an immediate but a more general purpose, of helping to open, for some readers, a further ability to see and enjoy, without the further interference of words, still other photographs, good and bad, and the ordinary world. For although it would be foolish to hope that a purification of the sense of sight can liberate and save us, any more than anything else is likely to, it might nevertheless do much in restoring us toward sanity, goodwill, calm, acceptance, and joy. Goethe wrote that it is good to think, better to look and think, best to look without thinking. Such photographs as these can do much to show us what he meant.”

    Best..
    Kathleen

  • oops..that post is addressed to AndreaC

  • My beef with the statement is that the photographer here is trying to make something out of the work that isn’t in the pictures. I don’t see what he is telling me is there. It is a series of nice portraits taken in varied situations but I just don’t see any of the other things he is trying to say I should see. A statement should be simple. If you have to go on and on about your work in obscure language then for me that doesn’t work at all. It is fine for the statement to lead the viewer in a direction, but here we have the case of us being lead far beyond where the photos actually take us. Too much of a stretch. The thing is the photos aren’t in themselves a failure if presented without the text. They are good portraits overall. However with the text, they are a failure because they obviously haven’t met the standard the photographer thinks they should.

  • “A statement should be simple.” Not all are chasing simple notions others are happy to go beyond the surface and find relationships with aspects of their own lives. As stated before the text is a aid, an insight and doesn’t have to be read.

  • It should be simple not dumb. It can pursue higher notions without being overblown and convoluted and essentially unreadable.

  • Kathleen,

    I knew your comment was for me. I will respond to yours later on (probably by tomorrow) I am almost due for bed now and I know I can’t put anything together in five minutes that takes a bit of effort.

  • AndreaC

    me too..exhausted..catch you later!

    thx
    Kat

  • “western woman in the modern cultural climate; a dialogue between the phenomena and the abstract feminine essence”

    Victor, I think that you have done a great job; a dialogue indeed – I very much enjoyed it. I’m sorry that a rather orthodox Burn response about words has overshadowed a potentially more useful debate about your images. And yet once we work our way past limited and basically useless comments such as “the artist’s statement is the most overblown bunch of BS I’ve read” it does seem that a more intelligent conversation emerges.

    Some may never have the interest to follow your approach and inquiry – always seeing the work, at best,as a ‘nice set of pictures.’ And I wish them all the best too. For my part, I am delighted by the sensitivity of your inquiry and the way in which you have attempted to question both our assumptions and show us something of the ‘essence’ of your subjects. You do it well.

    The intersection of image and oral expression will always be a mysterious area; I’d like to step into that space enthusiastically rather than backing away from it. I want to know as much as possible of what an photographer/artist/whatever is trying to say while also acknowledging that I will probably never ‘get it.’

    Btw – Kathleen, I am a fan of Goethe and what he was trying to advocate – but, apart from a few drawings, I believe his struggle was mostly expressed through words.. ;-))

  • Rafal

    Two of us at least have admitted that we were able to grasp the meaning of the text. It’s there. It’s just not easy to get. I wonder what you think Victor is saying that you don’t find in the work?

    Or perhaps it’s me who’s misunderstood the text. Perhaps what i think i understand from the text and see in the pictures are not there.

    Kathleen, Just quickly, if Leonardo da vinci was around to speak about his work, would you turn down the chance to hear him speak about it? If you were face to face with say the Mona Lisa, and there was a written statement written by the artist himself printed nearby on the wall, would you ignore it?

    But also I did not say it was intellectual laziness not to prepare a statement. I said it was intellectual laziness to avoid reading one when it is there. It is intellectual laziness to avoid the words that accompany a work, be it caption or statement, or curator’s essay even. If a viewer wants to get more from the work than their own subjective response, then they should not ignore the accompanying words. Like Rafal, you might think the work doesn’t achieve what the artist said he hoped to do. You don’t have to swallow it whole. It shouldn’t mean it shuts off your own exploration of the meaning of the work. If the work is rich enough, it will have layers of meaning that even the artist isn’t aware of.

    Anyway, later on I will look into what the man you refer to is saying.

  • Andrea,

    I grasped the meaning. It took a few readings but I grasped the meaning. The problem isn’t that I don’t understand what Victor wanted to say, it’s that the photos don’t really show what he says he wants us to see. The essence of femininity? “criticism of psychological, social, and philosophical aspects of human affairs in the contemporary western culture.” Really? Well perhaps I’m blind but I’m scratching my head here trying to see any “criticism of psychological, social, and philosophical aspects of human affairs in the contemporary western culture”. What I see are fairly well done portraits. But beyond that? If this is what Victor wanted to show then for me, this fell flat on it’s face. A question I have is why about half the photos are of the same woman. I would think that a project with such grand aspirations wouldn’t show more than a handful of women. Perhaps if Victor claimed to try and show the essence of these particular women, fine, I would buy that. But for my money he is way overshooting where he actually got to.

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