Doing time in Holot (2014- 2016 )
Thousands of African asylum seekers, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea, have been held in the Holot Detention Facility since 2013. During this time, the site and its surroundings have been a focus of photographic activity for Ron Amir, whose documentary work brings to the Israeli art scene complex social situations that are outside the commonplace field of vision. In his photographs from Holot, Amir directs his gaze not at the detention facility itself, but at the signs left by the day-to-day activities of the detainees in the desert landscape around it. What looks at first like a landscape photograph reveals itself at a second glance as a picture of traces – traces of waiting to be released. Other activities that are characteristic of daily life in Holot are shown in video works that furnish additional meaning to the time dimension investigated in the exhibition.
The exhibition displays 27 photographs, and 5 Video works.
As It Seems (2009- 2016)
"As It Seems", Ron Amir's second solo exhibition at Hezi Cohen Gallery, casts a comprehensive gaze at his engagement with places and mechanisms responsible for physical and mental imprisonment. Amir's work is characterized by the creation of long-term relationships with communities living on the country's social, political, and economic margins. As a photographer, his actions exceed the documentary stance of a passerby. Instead, he chooses to engage in long-term work processes based on mutual trust and interpersonal relations with those he photographs.
The exhibition's center of gravity lies in the tension created in the encounter between the "photographic drama" and the everyday routines of the photographed subjects. Amir creates medium and large-format photographs that enable him to capture sharply detailed images. Indeed, the overarching structure of his oeuvre seems to hinge on an intermediate point, which lies between the documentation of a place and its inhabitants and the depiction of carefully staged scenes. Amir identifies vitality and richness in reactions and products that develop within a framework of legal, socioeconomic, and political constraints. He mediates these moments in his photographs through a formalist choice of refined compositions, which are revealed in unexpected places.
A portrait of a young construction worker, which was photographed in an ephemeral living space against the backdrop of a colorful blanket hung on the occasion of the photograph, reveals the vestiges of whitewash on the boy's hands charge the image with a materiality pertaining to another world. At the same time, it points the viewer back to reality – to the fact that he is a construction worker. In another photograph, three workers sit together in a crowded frame. The green vegetation behind them pads the frame, while their feet are rooted in the red earth, the same earth that grounds them in place and deprives them of their right to move freely. Behind them, the gleaming marks hammered into the tin fence flood the image with vitality.
Jisr al-Zarqa (2002-2014)
In 2002, I began visiting Jisr al-Zarqa – an Arab, Muslim village located in the center of Israel. In the course of this long-term process, I have used photography as a tool for engaging with local residents and creating interactions that evolve in different contexts, as well as over time. Over the years, this framework has given rise to various series, while work on each series and the relationships I forged with the photographed individuals have given rise to additional series of photographs.
In some instances I initiate the photographs, while in other cases they are commissioned by village residents – creating alternative dynamics of contact between photographer and subjects and alternative power relations.
While working on this photography project, in 2005 I initiated and established a photography course for the village's high-school students
Steel Wool (2009–2014)
This series was photographed in the center of Israel and in the Sharon region, and focuses on objects and places characterized by acts of improvisation and conversion. The photographs constitute a collection ofinstances in which the functional character of objects, rooms, and environments is converted or transformed, exceeding their original mode of use. In a world aspiring to the most efficient division of space and processes of mass production, improvisation and conversion are subversive actions, which challenge conventional definitions and perceptions through inventive and creative actions.
Invisible Presence (2010–2011)
The individuals photographed in this series are Palestinian residents of the West Bank who were living illegally in Israel while working on the construction of two buildings in a new neighborhood in Kfar Saba, in the center of Israel. Like many others, these
workers crossed the border into Israel without the required permits. Due to their illegal status, they were constrained to live clandestinely in the building they were constructing, returning home at most once a month – even when home was located a short 15-minute drive from the construction site.