This November, the Mosaic Rooms
in Kensington presents an extraordinary photographic exhibition documenting the early years of the Israeli state, curated by celebrated visual theorist Ariella Azoulay. From Palestine to Israel is a collection of photographs, previously confined to Israeli state archives, which depict four crucial years in the history of Palestine/Israel: 1947 to 1950. This is the first time that many of these images have been shown outside Israel.
Through over 200 striking images, Azoulay provides a new account of the first years of the Israeli State and its relationship with the remaining Palestinians, a subject that has been previously ignored or only partially acknowledged in both Israel and the West. The photographs featured tell the story of how the Palestinian majority in Mandatory Palestine became a minority in Israel, while the Jewish minority established a new political entity in which it became a majority ruling a minority Palestinian population. As a leading visual theorist, Azoulay is able to provide fascinating analytical explanation of the images. This unique exhibition opens to coincide with the publication of Azoulays accompanying book, From Palestine to Israel: A Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation, 1947-1950, by Pluto Press on 3 November.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of talks on the fascinating relationship between archival photography, film and the writing (or re-writing) of history.
Ariella Azoulay comments: The constituent violence recorded in photos from these years should not be mistakenly and anachronistically read as signs of unavoidable national conflict. What was and still is truly unavoidable is not national conflict, but rather co-existence of Jews and Palestinians in a shared territory and the open space for a variety of forms to shape, practice, express and represent this co-existence. The past cannot be changed perhaps, except in this sense: it can be shown to be incomplete, the closures it seemingly imposed can be reopened, dormant potentialities can surface again and transform the present horizon of the political imagination, for the sake of moulding a still indeterminate future.
Ariella Azoulay directs the Photo-Lexic project at the Minerva Humanities Centre at Tel Aviv University, Israel. She is the author of Civil Imagination: Political Ontology of Photography (2011), The Civil Contract of Photography (2008), Once Upon a Time: Photography Following Walter Benjamin (2006) and Deaths Showcase: The Power of Image in Contemporary Democracy (2001). She won the 2002 Infinity Award for Writing, presented by the International Centre for Photography for excellence in the field of photography.