An Exhibition of the Products of PHOTO IS:RAEL’s Social Program
PHOTO ISRAEL’s social program is based on the perception that every individual has the right to present themselves, make their voice heard, and directly share their story in an unmediated manner.
In the last year, our activity has doubled in scale. We made many new connections with organizations dedicated to caring for communities with special needs, and new groups have joined our activity circle. Some 150 new guides and facilitators were trained, joining our volunteer program across the country.
Program participants often come from disadvantaged populations on the fringes of society such as clean addicts; at-risk youth and women; youth from minorities; elderly members of society; children and youth on the autistic spectrum; and more, and our activities allow them to learn the language of photography, practice the medium, and express their experience in a public exhibition. By photographing themselves, they create and present an unmediated message concerning the individual and the community.
Employing photography as a device to promote social change is not a new practice, however, in recent years, the methodology developed by American researchers Caroline Wang and Mary Ann Burris has become a synonym of “Participatory Photography.” Unlike photographers who document a community, in this process the community documents itself, becoming empowered by selecting the content and modes of its representation.
Concurrent with the promotion of social discourse within these communities, the photographs are included in the International Photography Festival alongside works by first-class artists and photographers from Israel and abroad. Displaying the photographic outcome of our social programs in an exhibition with works by acclaimed photographers breaks the familiar social hierarchies and allows a diverse range of voices to be broadly expressed, crossing borders that were inaccessible to participants, until today. Since 2015, over 10,000 participants, among them men, women, and children, in over 250 communities in Israel have participated in our social activities, letting their voices be heard through the language of photography.
Special thanks to the communities and organizations who provide the boundaries within which we act, the professional teams, the families and support groups thanks to whom we are able to conduct our program annually:
Israel Trauma Coalition; Enosh – The Israeli Mental Health Association; Israel Hillel – Leaving the Orthodox World; AKIM Israel; ILAN−The Israeli Association for Children with Disabilities; Rakefet Group Ramat Hasharon; Northern Goals; ESRA; Atalef; FOODISH – ANU Museum of the Jewish People; Matav; Gil School, Tel Aviv; Ofek School; and Ironi Zain School.
We wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to all of our partners and supporters, The Rural, Boarding School Administration and Youth Aliyah Department of the Ministry of Education in Israel, Joint-ESHEL; Tel Aviv Foundation; Ted Arison Family Foundation; Bank Massad; Kfar Yona Municipality; Tamra Municipality; Nahariya Municipality; Ashdod Municipality; Yavne Municipality, among others.
A most important thank you is extended to mentors, moderators, and workshop facilitators, who dedicate their time and effort, with love and determination. Most of all, we would like to thank the thousands of participants who have bravely opened up a window into their world.
Amir Dori, Director of Social Program
Curators: Amir Dori and Ora Ben Yoram
Editors: Iris Reiss, Chen Titayon, Yael Nissan