This text, that can now seem very naïve. One can measure how the hope of a resolution of this conflict has faded.
From an interview with Jean-François Chevrier
The image can bring closer what is distant. The first photographers of
the Near-East in the nineteenth century worked in this spirit.They went
above all to photograph the Palestine of the Bible
and the gateway of the Orient. Myself, I went to Israel and initially
met Israelis. I was not searching for the Biblical Palestine, as my
first contacts did not, or had not.
Yet I was interested in the Palestinians, the inhabitants of the former
Palestine, a small part of whom have long been jews. I did not search
out the signs of a future Palestinian state,
just as I have not shown the signs of the existing Israeli state, with its symbolic monuments and its socio-economic conditions.
I tried to come closer to people, as I always do. But each time I was
confronted with the dramatic aspects of their situation, wether on the
Palestinian or the Israeli side, I avoided showing it.
In sum, I maintained a distance, and even an equal distance. I was in a
divided territory, shared between hostile communities, inside a country
in a state of war. The newspapers and the
television show that constantly.
Israel is clearly a country in arms: it's visible everyday. I hab
ve shown a pacified country.
When I enter a camp of Palestinian refugees, I forget the barbed wire
and the military presence. I could be reproached for taking the
conqueror's side (or their viewpoint).
But the Palestinians are not only victims, they are the legitimate inhabitants of a territory, on a par with the Israelis.
I believe I was rather obsessed by this possibility for equality, or equalization, between the coexisting communities.
Visual proximiy is generally associates with ideas of tension and
concentration. All the worst stereotypes of reportage and activist
photography result from this association.
For me proximity is above all a sign of trust. The person I approach
trusts me. At the same time, I don't want to get too close. I am
suspicious of all effect of dramatic intensity.
This is also why I put more and more emphasis on an overall view. The
work of photography is not an accumulation of privileged moments, but
an ensemble of images or,
better, of sequences, implying combination of viewpoints and ways of
balancing out the information that is given. A sequence and even
more, a single image, mean nothing
by themselves, in isolation. But documentary exhaustiveness cannot insure the aptness of the overall image.
I explored a land where the idea of territory and the shares (or of
division) are particularly present. But I did not want to stick to
these ideas, to give them a definitive consistency.
On the contrary, I wanted to interpret and transform them by regrouping
cultural, social and linguistic differences in the same network of
images. The photographic image isolates,
separates, and divides, as much as it brings nearer. Montage allows for
the regrouping of what has been separated. And it brings nearer, in the
sense that it puts things together.
I did not seek to produce a truthfull image of a country. How could I?
I have only attempted to produce the overall image of a land, made up
of local singularities which are clearly
designated (since each image bears its caption). I realized that my own
jewish and mediterranean past found a current context here, and what is
for me a new proximity,
since the mix of unresolved conflicts allowed me to draw out significant differences.