Ilana Ruth Kohan

Revealing The Holy Land


The Project is constructed on the mechanism of reconstruction and transformation. Photographs, of historical sites and local people that interested the first photographers that arrived to the Holy Land in the 19th century ,are printed on  silver gelatin paper in the dark room. During the printing process, The fixing step is skipped and the print is then dipped in water outside of the the dark room. This results in murky images that keep on changing and eventually, disappearing. Other prints are dipped in burnt oil that slowly leaks through the frame.
Right after the invention photography, photographers began taking pictures of the holy land as part of their journeys.  They focused mainly on the holy sites (but not just) and on the local population, usually, having one of two purposes: either proving the validity of the bible or as a part of the scientific effort to expose and discover. This project attempts to recreate those photos from the 19th century in different manners: The composition, the titles and the analog printing process which also gives the prints the appearance resembling the old photographs.
The precise reconstruction is impossible as reflected in the transformation of the landscape, both physically and symbolically, and in the changes made in the holy sites and the prints themselves. The photographs are transforming to something different, just like the presumably eternal holy and historic places change their form and meaning throughout the years. The transformation in the prints highlights the changes in those sites even though it seems like the great importance that they have today existed since the beginning of time. The contemporary composition and angle of the shots are also different and help accentuate these changes.
The titles are taken from 19th century albums, with today’s date. This reconstruction creates tension that emphasises the stereotypical orientalist point of view of those first photographers that arrived from colonialist Europe.
Through the reconstruction and transformation, this project revolved around time and its influences on photography and the historical sites. The “Decisive Moment” of photography becomes questionable just like the symbolical and cultural status of the historic places becomes unsettled.