Last Chance to Visit “This Place” at the Brooklyn Museum
By Karolina Sotomayor
When struck with “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” in the introduction to “This
Place” at the Brooklyn Museum, I worried a series of gory, saddening images would
solicit the complete hopelessness I feel about the current situation in the Middle East.
Instead, the first image I encountered was Jeff Wall’s Daybreak (2011), which instantly
spoke to me. The soft blue sky accented by the first streaks of sunlight made me
question whether such a tumultuous region could ever reach that same state of peace.
“This exhibition is not going to make me want to burst into tears,” I thought as I
smiled at the kids of The Weinfield Family’s (Frédéric Brenner, 2009) uninterested
expressions. The portraits are sincere and atypical from the images usually released by
the media. There was no blood and there were no guns; instead, there were
monochromatic landscapes of cities blended into the surrounding mountains, family
members sitting side by side in the desert surrounded by herds of sheep, a grandmother,
a mother and a daughter staring right into our eyes.
In 2006, French photographer Frédéric Brenner envisioned a project that would
take place in Israel and the West Bank, once again gravitating towards the subject of
Jewish communities around the world. This time, along with a team of curators, he
chose eleven internationally renowned photographers to participate mostly based on
their previous works on the area.
The exhibition features the works of Josef Koudelka, Nick Waplington, Fazal
Sheikh, Stephen Shore, Thomas Struth, Jungjin Li, Gilles Peress, Rosalind Fox
Solomon, Martin Kollar, Jeff Wall, and Wendy Ewald. Between 2009 and 2012, the
photographers embarked on a memorable journey to Israel and the West Bank
photographing their every-day encounters in the Holy Land.
The images show the moments in between, the bits and pieces of normalcy
sowed into the reality of living in a place divided by more than two hundred years of
conflict. By the end of my visit, I returned to Jeff Wall’s picture and realized that my
understanding of life in Israel all along had been like being asleep and not wanting to
wake up to see the daybreak.
If you have not visited “This Place” at the Brooklyn Museum yet, it will only be
on view through June 5, so don’t miss out!
Article © Karolina Sotomayor
Images © Johnathan Dorado and the Brooklyn Museum