Frédéric Brenner at Howard Greenberg Gallery

Image above: ©Frédéric Brenner, "The Weinfeld Family" 2009. Courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery

An exhibition of recent photographs of Israel and the West Bank by Frederic Brenner will be on view at Howard Greenberg Gallery till July 3, 2015.  An Archeology of Fear and Desire is part of an unprecedented photographic project initiated by Brenner, which explores Israel and the West Bank as place and metaphor. A book of the same name, published by MACK in the UK last year, accompanies the exhibition.

unnamed-1©Frédéric Brenner, "The Aslan Levi Family" 2010. Courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery.


An Archeology of Fear and Desire is Brenner’s contribution to This Place, an epic photographic project he conceived of in 2005. He imagined inviting artists from around the world to come to Israel “neither to praise nor condemn but to question and reveal, to look beyond the headlines and into the fault-lines.”

Twelve internationally acclaimed photographers traveled to Israel between 2009 and 2013, representing the most illustrious group of artists ever to turn their collective attention to Israel. A major traveling exhibition opened in Prague at the Dox Centre for Contemporary Art in October 2014 and now is travelling to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, opening in May.  The show will then travel to the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, in October 2015 and to the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the following February. The exhibition is curated by Charlotte Cotton, an internationally acclaimed curator and the former head of the photography department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


unnamed-4©Frédéric Brenner, "Hadera" 2013. Courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery.


An Archeology of Fear and Desire, the exhibition at Howard Greenberg Gallery and Brenner’s own contribution to This Place, represents the first showing of work from the project in the U.S.  Brenner explores Israel as a place of radical otherness, delving into longing, belonging and exclusion through portraits and landscapes. “It is an essay about devouring myths and how constructs, social and religious, perpetuate a tyranny of roles which render us strangers to what is most intimate in us,” Brenner writes in his book.

From 1978 to 2003, Brenner chronicled the Jewish Diaspora in more than 40 countries. In Exile at Home, a second part of the exhibition at Howard Greenberg Gallery, Brenner traced the lives of 14 Jewish families for more than 30 years. “It’s been an exploration of the human condition through a hole in the door,” he notes. The exhibition documents families he portrayed both in their respective countries in the Diaspora and in Israel, where he found them after they emigrated.

 Brenner at Howard Greenberg-10At Howard Greenberg Gallery on the opening night.


This Place is a monumental artistic endeavor initiated by Frederic Brenner, who believes that through the eyes of great artists we can begin to understand the complexities of Israel and the West Bank—history, geography, people, daily life—and the resonance these have for societies around the world.

Inspired by historical models that gathered artists to ask essential questions about culture, society, and individuals, including the Farm Security Administration in the United States in the 1930’s, Brenner first conceived the idea for the project in 2005. After seeking the advice of a group of international curators, he invited 11 acclaimed photographers to join him in exploring Israel and the West Bank.


Brenner at Howard Greenberg-9 At Howard Greenberg Gallery on the Opening Night.


The 12 photographers participating in This Place are Wendy Ewald, Martin Kollar, Josef Koudelka, Jungjin Lee, Gilles Peress, Fazal Sheikh, Stephen Shore, Rosalind Solomon, Thomas Struth, Jeff Wall, Nick Waplington, and Brenner himself. Each photographer spent approximately six months in residence, pursuing his or her own artistic vision. During these residencies, which stretched over four years from 2009 to 2013, thousands of original art works were created. These images combine to create not a single monolithic vision, but rather a diverse and fragmented portrait, alive to all the rifts and paradoxes of this important and highly contested place.

Frederic Brenner was born in France in 1959. Brenner is best known for his opus Diaspora, the result of a 25-year search in over 40 countries to create a visual record of the Jewish people at the end of the twentieth century.

unnamed-5©Frédéric Brenner, "Sderot" 2011. Courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery.


Diaspora opened at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 2003 and has since been shown in cities throughout the world. Brenner has also had solo exhibits at venues such as the International Center of Photography in New York, Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles, the Musee de l'Elysee in Lausanne, as well as in Mexico City, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Paris, Amsterdam and Buenos Aires.

Winner of Prix de Rome (1992), the Prix de Salon de la Photo (1982) and the Prix Niepce (1981), he has also directed an original film and has published six books, including Diaspora: Homelands in Exile (2003). His book, An Archaeology of Fear and Desire, received an award at the Fotobook Festival in Kassel.

All opening images by Paul McLaren.

MARK LUBELL: the next chapter