SIDE BY SIDE OR FACE TO FACE
17 September 2003 - 25 January 2004
Israelis and Palestinians: 50 years of photography by JEAN MOHR
Images that bear witness to the essential facets of the human condition: this is what sets photographer Jean Mohr apart. In an exhibition that echoes humanitarian endeavour, taking an expansive view of other people and the world, every one of his exceptional images is bathed in respect for man and human dignity.
In 70 photographs, Jean Mohr trains his gaze on life in Israel and the Palestinian territories between 1949 and 2002. The exhibition invites the visitor to observe everyday reality in the form of encounters between man and his physical and political environment. Taken in the heart of a divided land, the images draw forth scenes shot with the photographer’s inborn feeling for light and composition.
Through his lens we see the faces of women, serious and smiling old men, young people waiting, in settings that often startle. We also discover the work of the ICRC and its local partners from the Palestinian Red Crescent and Israel’s Magen David Adom. These are snapshots stolen in streets, markets, operating theatres and the key locations of a story told by more than one narrator.
In his subtle way, Jean Mohr gives voice to the echoing rumble of unrest, occasionally interrupted by a murmur of hope. Even his nature shots bring to light the passage from one world to another. He has the delicate gift of being able to focus on the unusual facet of a detail or a subject so commonplace as to be anything but anodyne.
Jean Mohr is well known for his numerous illustrated reports from around the world. Before taking up photography he was an ICRC delegate (1949-1950) in the Middle East, in Jericho and Hebron, and therefore knows the organization well. His work as a photographer amounts to a study of the conflict, of human and natural landscapes before and after battle.
The point here is not to judge, but to understand. This will be brought home to the visitor throughout the exhibition and the events organized alongside it. Those events are intended to shed the light of the past and the present on the commitment to the future of the artisans of peace.
“His work is deeply evocative of events as they happen; at the same time, it is always reminiscent of another place. Even apparently familiar subjects will seem foreign to the viewer.”
John Berger, Writer, 1999
Exhibition organized by the ICRC and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, Geneva.
Curators: Jean-François Berger, Roger Mayou, with the assistance of Jean Mohr.
ICRC production: Paul Oberson.
This exhibition has been shown in Jerusalem, Gaza and Ramallah.