Winner: Adam Reynolds
Artist Statement: Architecture of An Existential Threat
Door inside the municipal bomb shelter, Haifa
Public bomb shelter beneath apartment complex, Jerusalem
Public bomb shelter, Haifa
Student rec room/bomb shelter, University of Haifa
Mosque/bomb shelter at Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Pub/bomb shelter, Kibbutz Kfar Aza
Reinforced 'safe area' conference room in the Knesset, Jerusalem
Youth activity center/public bomb shelter, Kiryat Shmona
B'nei Akiva Youth Synagogue/bomb shelter, Otniel settlement in the West Bank
Newly constructed pent house 'mamad' safe room, Jerusalem
I am a documentary photographer in the service of my subjects. My hope is that they are able to “speak” through my photographs and create a sense of personal connection in the viewer. My photography has been largely informed by my time living and working in the Middle East over the course of several years. Exploring and communicating this passion visually allows me to participate in the wider effort to increase our common understanding of this part of the world. I strive to record my own vision of the region’s history, culture, and politics with honesty and intimacy that seeks to reach beyond the daily headlines. While the Arab Spring and the tragedy in Syria have largely overtaken events in Israel/Palestine, I find that exploring this conflict outside of the harsh, polarizing glare of the media spotlight allows for a far more nuanced understanding of its many subtleties.
This ongoing body of work investigates one such facet. Since its creation in 1948, the State of Israel has felt itself isolated and beset by enemies seeking its destruction. I feel that this collective siege mentality is best expressed in the ubiquitousness of the thousands of bomb shelters found throughout the country. By law all Israelis are required to have access to a bomb shelter and rooms that can be sealed off in case of an unconventional weapons attack.
The shelters come in all shapes and sizes. Along with the more conventional below ground bomb shelters, there are underground parking garages that can be converted into a nuclear-proof bunkers and hospitals able to accommodate thousands, entire schools encased in reinforced concrete with blast-proof windows, and small, one room “mamads” in private residences meant to withstand rockets and unconventional weapons attack. It is not unusual to re-purpose bomb shelters for broader uses, such as dance studios, community centers, pubs, mosques, and synagogues.
These shelters are the architecture of an existential threat – both real and perceived. In them can be seen Israel's resiliency as a nation, and its inability to come to terms with itself and with its neighbors in a volatile region. The resulting images offer a window into the collective mindset of the Israeli people, how they have normalized this “doomsday space” into their daily lives.
Ultimately I see this body of work best expressed in book form, and will work with an Israeli academic to better connect the images with words relating to this unique Israeli mindset. This summer I will return to Israel in order to broaden the scope of the typological survey, tracking down shelters relating to the government, military, Israel’s Arab citizens, kibbutzes, re-purposed shelters, shelters in West Bank settlements, and to further broaden the geographical scope overall.