web analytics
April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » Sections » Arts »

One Family – Photographs Of Vardi Kahana

Share Button


One Family – Photographs of Vardi Kahana


Selected Images: Columbia/Barnard Hillel


The Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life


606 West 115th Street, (B’way)


Monday-Thursday: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.


212-854-5111


January 22-February 29, 2008


 


Tel Aviv Museum Catalogue available at


Andrea Meislin Gallery, 526 West 26th Street, #214;


212-627-2552


Kahana’s work at www.vardikahana.com


 


 


The Holocaust was “Ground Zero of the Greenwald-Kahana family.” In the midst of the murderous fury of 1944, three sisters were tattooed with consecutive numbers in Auschwitz. They were lucky; they survived while so many of their family perished. The sisters found their way to Israel where they met the men they married, had children who had children who will have children. They have rebuilt the Jewish people from the ashes. One talented offspring – Vardi Kahana, born in 1959 – has documented the history of her diverse family over the last 15 years.

 

Four generations slowly emerge from her majestic photographic essay of close to 100 black and white photographs, captured in a book published by the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, many of which were shown recently in New York at the Andrea Meislin Gallery. This series of photographs is called “One Familyand yet is a telling portrait of the contemporary Jewish people, the Israeli experience writ large, “the entire spectrum [that] comes to represent Israel in its current, multifaceted reality.”

 

 



Three Sisters, 1992 by Vardi Kahana


Courtesy Andrea Meislin Gallery


 

 

Vardi Kahana possesses a visual intelligence that illuminates the majority of her photographs. Her extensive photographic work in newspapers and periodicals finally led to the position of editorial photographer for the weekend magazine of Yedioth Ahronoth that she has held since 1995. She recently had a solo exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and has shown in many group exhibitions including many international venues and the Israel Museum. Her closely studied portraits are a veritable who’s who of Israeli political, entertainment, sports and artistic leadership. From prime ministers, IDF Chief of Staff, and politicos to poets, actors and authors, the entire spectrum of Israeli leadership has come under the scrutiny of her lens. Whether shot in her studio or in carefully chosen locations, each portrait manages to penetrate the personality of the sitter even as it preserves and forcefully expresses, through exquisite composition and lighting, their public role.

 

She did not hesitate to use her considerable skills when she decided to document her family in 1992. She started with her mother, Rivka and her two sisters, Leah and Esther. While the tattooed numbers, A-7760, A-7761 and A-7762 become the defining motif linking the photograph with a terrible past, it is the intense gaze of the three sisters, each different in character and equally transfixing, that brings this image into the inescapable present.

 

 


Three Brothers, 1992 by Vardi Kahana

Courtesy Andrea Meislin Gallery

 

 

Quickly thereafter, she photographed her father Aharon and his two brothers Moshe and Yehezkel, all three of whom had escaped Europe before the war. Their image is less riveting and yet the compositional strategy of two suits and two hats framing the hatless Moshe provides a mini-narrative of sibling camaraderie and distinction. The common history of the three brothers and three sisters, and the fact that all had come from the town of Beregszaz, Hungary, made them the natural foundation of a new clan transported to the safe haven of Israel. As one moves through the exhibition and more extensive photographs in the book, it becomes obvious that Kahana has documented not a typical snapshot family history of births, celebrations and deaths; rather the diversity of Israel itself emerges as a historical and sociological process.

 

Pointedly each photograph locates where the family member was portrayed. Each link expands the restless dispersion of the family from the original six founders. We see no less than 30 different locations that these four generations call home in Israel, not to mention other family members in Denmark and the Netherlands.

 

In the Shomron they include Ateret, Alfei Menashe, Kiryat Sefer, Psagot, Maaleh Michmash and Nofei Prat. The Tel Aviv area is represented by Petach Tikva, Ramat Hasharon, Neve Tsedek, Bnei Brak and Ramat Gan. Some of the family is in Hebron, Susya and Arad while in the north they are found in Safed, Meron, and Kibbutz Lehavot Habashan in the Hula Valley. Along the northern coast their relatives are in Kibbutz Cabri near Nahariya, Kfar Masaryk near Acco and Kiryat Bialik in Haifa. Further south they are found in Karkur, north of Hadera, Caesaria, Herzliya, Savyon and Moshav Hagor near Kfar Sava. Finally, some family members who used to be in Ganei Tal in Gaza were photographed before the expulsion.

 

Surveying this far-reaching map of family members reveals that Kahana’s project is as much about geography as it is photography. And of course in Israel, geography instantly translates into ideology and theology. Vardi Kahana’s family ranges from pierced and tattooed secular individuals to religious Zionist and Haredi families. The viewer becomes uncomfortably aware of which images we associate with, and which images we reject or condemn because they don’t fit our ideals of Israeli life. Once we see them, though, we cannot erase them and therefore they challenge our notion of the ideal with the real. All from one family.

 

 


Malki’s Family, 2005, by Vardi Kahana

Courtesy Andrea Meislin Gallery

 

 

One image captivates us by its disparity. “Malki, cousin Yaki’s daughter, with her husband Oren and their children Shira and Eyal” at Ganei Tal, Gush Katif. Here this attractive young woman, her husband and their young two children pose before a barbed wire fence, one that at first glance they are on the outside of. The fence separates them from their dangerous neighbors and yet, why are those houses on the other side so nice and, after all, which side are they on?

 

Other relatives present other views. “Yehuda, cousin Eta’s son, with his wife Renat and their children Uri, Hallel and Adi” are seen near their home at Alonei Habashan on the Golan Heights. They stand without a fence, this family of five proud Jews before the five modern windmills that seem to frame them, to protect them, even as we know that the Golan, too, is politically vulnerable. Again Kahana’s compositional skill is evident as the size relationships between their three children (two little girls, one older boy), the middle-sized mother next to a rather tall and substantial husband Yehuda are directly echoed by the differently sized and positioned windmills. These photographs don’t just happen; they are carefully posed, positioned and cropped to make them visually narrate.

 

 



Yehuda’s Family, 2007 by Vardi Kahana


Courtesy Andrea Meislin Gallery


 

 

Vardi Kahana has created a far-reaching sociological portrait of the Israeli Jewish people through the lens of her own extended and diverse family. There are far too many intelligent, artful images of secular, traditional, yeshivish, and Haredi family members to do justice to the powerful scope of this project.

 

Just as the covenant of Torah and Land to the Jewish people was finally fulfilled not by lone individuals but rather through Jacob’s family; Kahana’s ‘One Family’ suggests that contemporary Israel and the Jewish people will be built up and sustained by the vitality and diversity of the Jewish Family. These powerful photographs are living proof of this reality.

 

Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Please feel free to contact him with comments at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com 

Share Button

About the Author: Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “One Family – Photographs Of Vardi Kahana”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
BDS targets Zabar's; Carole Zabar promotes BDS proponents.
All in the Family: BDS Protests Zabars; Carole Zabar Promotes BDS
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

Regardless of age, parents play an important role in their children’s lives.

Marriage-Relationship-logo

We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears.

Gorsky-041814-Torah

Some Mountain Jews believe they are descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes and were exiled to Azerbaijan and Dagestan by Sancheriv.

Baim-041814-Piggy

Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Dear Dr. Yael:

My heart is breaking; my husband’s friend has gotten divorced. While this type of situation is always sad, here I do believe it could have been avoided.

The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!

Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.

Alternative assessments are an extremely important part of understanding what students know beyond the scope of tests and quizzes.

More Articles from Richard McBee
Crossbow and Black Bird (detail) Cervera Bible, (1300), Fol. 445.                                                           Courtesy Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, Lisbon.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Jo-El/Jore-El (2013) 48” x 60” acrylic on canvas, by Joel Silverstein
Courtesy the artist

Silverstein’s work has long concerned itself with the intersection between the personal and Jewish Biblical narrative, significantly explored in this column in “Brighton Beach Bible” (July 27, 2009).

Not surprisingly the guardians of synagogue tradition is male dominated in both Moses Abraham, Cantor and Mohel and Synagogue Lamp Lighters.

Neither helpless victims nor able to escape the killer’s clutches, the leaders had to make impossible choices on a daily basis in a never-ending dance with the devil.

Bradford has opted to fully exploit the diverse possibilities of the physical surface by concentrating on the three-dimensional application of paint (impasto) and other material.

The ostensible outsider frequently has the privilege of seeing the exclusive inner sanctum with fresh and unbiased eyes. Artists’ initial encounters with the Talmud are equally blessed.

It is a rare season indeed when two major auction houses show not only resplendent offerings of Judaica, but also multiple examples of highly unusual and rare Jewish-themed fine art. That is indeed the case now both at Sotheby’s December 19th auction and the Bonhams recent December 10th auction.

As I described Gaon in a review in June 2001 (“In Search of Ancestors, Sculpture by Simon Gaon” at Yeshiva University Museum), his Bukharian Jewish roots are deeply embedded on both sides of his family, echoed in his early yeshiva education.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/one-family-photographs-of-vardi-kahana/2008/02/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: