SYLVIA HORWITZ photography


What makes a place holy?


From the time I started making photographs I have been drawn to consider the resilience of those people who have experienced irrevocable loss.

This theme emerged powerfully as I photographed people in the Jewish and Muslim Quarters of Jerusalem's Old City. Surveillance and armed security forces are everywhere. Soldiers are often only a few years older than those they protect. The tragic consequences of conflict affect everyone. Despite circumstances, people seem to adapt to life in this ancient place, with rituals forming the basis for daily living. I made pictures of personal transactions, religious observance, work, celebration, and remembrance. These are the same activities that give all of our lives purpose and meaning.

During four years of living in Israel, I spent solitary time in the wilderness of the eastern Negev desert, the Judean Hills, and the Dead Sea. In addition to its unusual topography, this part of the country reverberates with the power of biblical history and tradition. One cannot visit the region without experiencing something profound. I went to the edge of a ravine overlooking the vastness of the land near Arad. The only sound was that of the wind. In Hebrew, the word ruach, meaning wind, is the same word as for spirit.

I was in the great wilderness of the Psalms. It is here that I returned often to photograph the landscape and to gather spiritual strength, as I was surviving loss and change in my own life.

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