Gaa Gallery is pleased to present Works by Yael Ben-Zion. Works is a selection of photographs from long-term projects the artist has pursued since 2007. The exhibition runs concurrently with Sophia Hamann’s Studies from September 5 – October 11.
Yael Ben-Zion is a New York-based photographer who was raised in Israel. Her work stems from a very personal place, although the issues she engages with often have political or social implications. The images Ben-Zion creates are not straightforward portraiture or documentation but rather intimate moments and depictions that allude to our common experience as human beings. Home, belonging, resilience, and the tenuous nature of living amidst social and political conflict are themes that reoccur in Ben-Zion’s work.
Visually her work has a stillness and a contemplative tone. It offers a measured reflection on the ways in which people spend their lives and the histories they carry with them. Through developing an ongoing dialog with the people she photographs, Ben-Zion’s project-driven works are often linked together and evolve based on these relationships. The works shown for the exhibition are taken from several projects, 5683 Miles Away, The City Elders, Survivors, and In Transit.
5683 Miles Away is a project Ben-Zion began in 2007. In her journey home Ben-Zion travels 5683 miles from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. There she records the small details of her surroundings - domestic settings, portraits of family and friends, landscapes, interiors, exteriors, objects, enclosures - all spaces one may regularly encounter. In these still lives, portraits, and landscapes Ben-Zion reflects on the idea of home while considering the emotional and social consequences of existing within the borders of political unrest and conflict. The personal and intimate nature of the works from this series offers a new perspective on the complexities of day-to-day life in Israel.
Through her work Ben-Zion often considers the relationship of past and present, memory and accumulation. In the project The City Elders Ben-Zion depicts the interior world of an aging generation of New Yorkers. Ben-Zion is fascinated by the City’s senior citizens, who as she describes “seem to absorb, in one way or another, the resilience of the City and its endurance”. In the images from The City Elders one sees portraits and vibrant interiors filled with personal objects, furniture, clothes, all the spatial and material things which depict ones life, personality, and history. The City Elders has since evolved into another project, Survivors, which focuses on Holocaust survivors living in New York City. Finally, in In Transit, Ben-Zion utilizes public space as silent reminders to the lives that have run through them.
Yael Ben-Zion is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Yale Law School and the International Center of Photography. Her work has been exhibited in the United States and in Europe and is also included in the MTA-Artists Unite Subway Elevator Poster Project. Yael is the recipient of various grants and awards, including ICP’s Directors’ Scholarship Award, the International Photography Awards and grants from NoMAA and the Puffin Foundation. In 2007, her photograph Crash was selected for the cover of American Photography 23. Yael’s first monograph, 5683 miles away (Kehrer, 2010), was selected as one of photo-eye’s Best Books of 2010 and for the PDN Photo Annual 2011. It was also a nominee for the German Photo Book Award 2011. Intermarried (Kehrer, 2013), her second monograph, was selected for American Photography 30 and featured in a variety of publications, among them, the NY Times Sunday Review, PDN Magazine and the Forward.