Project Detail: 'Ha Aretz ha Muvtahat'


LuganoPhotoDays 2018




Roger Grasas



Project Info

'Ha Aretz ha Muvtahat'

Named after the aramaic language that was supposedly spoken by Jesus Christ, and referring to “the Promised Land”, HaAretz HaMuvtahat employs the camera lens as a conceptual tool to reinterpret the biblical landscapes amidst a globalized world of consumerism, hypertechnicality, mass tourism and conflict. Compiled from photographs taken in nowadays Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Egypt, this series is conceived with the aim to document some of the most famous locations of biblical events such as the genesis, the exodus, the baptism or crucifixion of Jesus, the devil's temptation, the last dinner or the good samaritaine story. At the same time, it aspires to provide a critical visual refection on the potential evolution (or regression) of conflictive ancestral regions referred to as the cradle of civilization such as Galilee, Samaria or Judea, wich represent the epicentre of the jewish, christian and arab cultures while testifying to the ferocious power that capitalism and technology exercise in our postmodern times.

The Promised Land serves therefore as the background of a photogenic reality –a reality irreversibly mediated and recreated for contemplation by the camera lens. Biblical passages provide the necessary symbolic connotations when it comes to generating visual resonances and to transcending the contemporaneity of its sceneries. Touristic routes are nonetheless what ends up subduing their final interpretation. From Nazareth to Jerusalem, from Jericho to Bethlehem, and from Hebron to The Dead Sea, the principal regions of the Holy Books exist as none other but merchandised spaces of leisure within a globalized world of consecrated frontiers. Landscapes are consumed, and so are History and the past. The past is a fossil embedded on the geographic, social and cultural skin of these places. What persists is the totalitarian veneration of its supposed historicity, ethnicity and monumentality. Veneration throws its shadow on landscapes and the destiny of their inhabitants.

Preserving with its gaze necessary distances, 'Ha Aretz' documents the abysm produced by chimerical illusions and dehistoricization. Various of his images are accentuated by elements that literally block the view – walls, fortifications, checkpoints. Others unearth the glories of souvenir folklore and the palpitating dissonance between mundaneness and spirituality, peace and violence, silence and pronounced absences. All of them capture the failed spirituality of these places. There hardly exists anything that could suggest the possibility of a miracle: God is to be found neither in the Sacred Waters, nor in Baptism nor on the Mount of Olives. Human presence remains delimitated in the areas of touristic and religious routes. The rest has turned into a hostile, arid non-place, wherein obsolete beliefs keep on instigating an unending confrontation between communities, cultures and human souls.

Roger Grasas