The staged pastoral scenes of The Village created by Israeli photographer Adi Nes reflect both the idyllic fantasies and challenging realities of modern-day Israel. “The country started with a dream, and then more and more, we decided to ignore the dream,” the artist said. “I’m trying to bring myself back to the dream without forgetting the reality.”
Growing up as a gay Sephardic Jew, Adi Nes felt like an outsider, set apart from the mainstream Israeli culture that promoted a particular type of masculinity. He equates this outsider status with the role of a photographer, who in his words, is “the person who looks at things from the side.” His photographs are complex, vibrant depictions that present open-ended narratives, engage themes of individual and collective identity, allude to art history, and investigate the history and politics of Israel.
The year 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of Israel’s victory in the Middle East War, which resulted in Israeli forces gaining full command of Jerusalem and the beginning of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories – the West Bank and Gaza – as well as the Golan Heights and Sinai. The complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict that began when Israel was founded in 1948, continues to revolve around issues of how and whether to divide territories between two peoples, if the Palestinian territories can become an independent state, and how to resolve decades of violence. Adi Nes’s photographs present a nuanced, personal view of modern-day Israel nearly seventy years since its founding. They are dreamlike, even surreal at times, presenting not only an idealized countryside, but also expressing the difficult personal feelings that arise in this world: fear, terror, and existential questioning.
This exhibition was organized on the occasion of the 2017 Louisville Photo Biennial, which takes place September 22 – November 11, featuring 50+ photography exhibitions – spanning traditional to contemporary, local to global work – at museums, galleries, universities, and cultural institutions throughout Louisville Metro, Southern Indiana, and surrounding communities.
About Adi Nes
Adi Nes was born in Kiryat-Gat, Israel in 1966 and now works in Tel Aviv. He has had solo shows at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco; the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. His work is in many public collections including the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada; The Jewish Museum, New York; the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel and The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.