SYLVIA HORWITZ photography



For extended periods of time (between 1995 and 2000) I lived and worked in Israel. There I became increasingly aware of the ever-shifting range of attitudes and emotions in a country where celebration and hope are often juxtaposed with loss and remembrance. Future uncertainty has become an accepted way of life in the entire region.

My work for this exhibit was organized into two sets of images representing the vulnerability and the bravado I recognized. The show consisted of 25 gelatin sliver prints; six of these images are included here along with the exhibition statement as it originally appeared:

On the surface, life goes on. Status: normal. Beneath the surface, people's conflicting moods are
reflected in and by shop windows in the nearly empty streets.

In the first set of photographs, pensive models wear soft lingerie and bridal gowns. Pearls, smooth beads created by agitation, glow on the slender neck of one mannequin. The bridal-veiled model casts her eyes down to simulate modesty, but instead, she and her companions convey a sense of impending doom. All of the hopes and dreams reflected in these feminine images could be destroyed in an instant.

Glass windows are their fragile protective barriers, providing an illusion of separation from the violent, chaotic urban world outside. One model seems to levitate above it all. Transparent mirrors reflect street rubble, empty intersection, and half-constructed buildings. A way of life, a philosophy, a political experiment hang in the balance.

In the second set of photographs, bravado, and a tough swagger greet danger. Now, the plastic models display leather, chains, body piercing, and a surly demeanor to communicate postures of defiance and bravado. Clothing hints of armor. Hard facial images head off reflected street images and convey disregard for any suggestion of beauty which may weaken resolve.

Trash gathers at storefronts. Vehicles and buildings stand deserted in the early morning. An armless mannequin loses her identity behind a helmet and heavy canvas veil. Another’s laughter lacks mirth. The images suggest post-disaster, uncertain future. Survival demands toughness.

These collected photographs of frozen plastic models represent real people, protected only by an illusory veil of weapons, resolve, and diplomacy. They are people determined to live their lives in a place filled with danger and fragmented hope.

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