A new book has just been released called Passage to Israel (Skyhorse). It accompanies an exhibition with the same name that opened at Anderson Contemporary in New York City last month, with plans to travel throughout the United States and Canada, Europe, and then come home to Jerusalem. The underlying goal of the project, says curator Karen Lehrman Bloch, is to “re-normalize the way the art world views Israel.”
Can it do that?
Art is an expression that can transcend culture, language, and time.
Art is a mechanism to demonstrate aesthetic beauty and a device to disarm politics and religion from the conversation.
Art is an instrument of sincerity, thought-provoking imagery, and a new context we otherwise might not discover.
Beauty has the power to disarm and engage. It can silence and disturb the deepest part of the human soul.
In Passage to Israel, the pictures communicate day-to-day life without words, commentary, pundits, or debate.
In today’s world, where language is overused, outstretched beyond its intended meaning, thus producing much error, I have discovered a salvation from the noise of our culture. It is in beauty that I trust.
How do we understand otherness? What makes a human being desire to hear and appreciate, that which is different from them?
It is beauty. Aesthetic has no religion and no politics. It exists for the purpose of pleasure, loveliness, and intrigue. If we can silence ourselves long enough to invite beauty to take up residence in our minds, then we can create a space to see what cannot be heard with ears. Sometimes seeing is believing.
Passage to Israel is not about telling one what to think or how to feel.
This book is a collection of life and a testimony of how art invites us to look within ourselves.
If a picture says a thousand words, then Passage to Israel is a silent narrative of a place that has too many voices—rapidly repeating itself in succession over centuries. Perhaps the best way to experience a place with such history is to quiet the mind and open one’s self to the visual feast that knows only living.
Passage to Israel is a captivating tour of the living, dying, celebrating, and working. The singing, praying, and dancing, mixed with the drinking, smoking, and eating is evidence of the lifeblood, which runs through every tree, every stone, and every soul.
Only art can communicate these realities effectively. The artistic lens is one that requires no interpretation, no explanation. It is free for the asking and available for the taking.
Art does not judge.
Art does not pretend.
Art is honest.
Art is a mirror.
Art is timeless.
If we as thinking human beings can behold images without judgment, or reservation, then we can fully explore without limitations.
The constraints of commentary, the filters of media and popular opinion, contaminate the taste of all the flavors. Those flavors are interrupted by the insertion of attitude, bias, and agenda.
Art requires that we shed all of ourselves at the front door and escape into what is in front of us.
Can the world ever experience Israel just as it is?
Are human beings capable of being totally present in the midst of beauty and receiving whatever is there?
Art is neither right nor wrong.
Art is objective.
Art is internalized.
Art is personal.
No one gets to tell the viewer that the reaction they experience in response to art is correct or incorrect.
If one saw a picture of a place and was not told what it was or its location, would the viewer be free enough to create a narrative in his or her own mind?
If the photos in Passage to Israel were displayed in a gallery for an exhibition in a random city, with no captions or descriptions, would the viewer know it was Israel?
Yes, they would and here is why.
The distinct images of architecture, artifacts, historic relics, and landmarks are unmistakably Israel.
The characters, the experiences, and the day-to-day are inherently Israel.
The ultimate task for the beholder is this:
Can you let go of everything you have ever known and see with new eyes and listen to your soul’s response to the beauty in front of you?
Welcome to Passage to Israel.