T H FOX SOLOMON. 10 Portfolios Rosalind Fox Solomon. All images Rosalind Fox Solomon (courtesy MACK). Kissing the Stone

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1 PORTFOLIO E T H M All images (courtesy MACK). Kissing the Stone ROSALIND FOX SOLOMON 10 11

2 Jerusalem Syndrome Untitled 12 13

3 Untitled Wall 14 15

4 Priest with Flock Independence of Sierra Leone Celebration 17 16

5 Untitled Baptism 18 19

6 ROSALIND FOX SOLOMON THEM WHEN I LOOK THROUGH A CAMERA LENS, I WANT TO FEEL A VISCERAL CONNECTION. Having spent her entire career creating highly personal emotive photographic essays on troubled locations, has never been one to shy away from a difficult subject. RFS: No, I could not have predicted what I would find and photograph and how I would express my feelings. I wanted to know how Israelis and Palestinians experienced their lives. The way in which I saw the place became more defined over the months that I was there. The title of your series Them, as well as describing the various relationships between the different social groups within Israel and the West Bank, also sets you apart from your subjects. Israel has one of the most complicated histories imaginable, both politically and culturally. Do you think that an outsider to the region such as yourself can begin to represent it in any "accurate" sense? RFS: For me, while Them is specific to Israel and the West Bank, it is also universal in that it deals with issues confronting the contemporary world. Everyone is them. As an outsider, I interacted with Africans and Palestinians. I was welcomed in homes and territories unfamiliar to insiders. In that sense, my outsider perception of individual lives and struggles is more accurate than an insider view. I don t know whether anyone can represent the region accurately. My representation is as accurate as any. It is an outsider view of Israel and the West Bank, but at the same time it is an insider view of the world. My perception of the tension in the air is represented through my images and texts. It is my perception. There are so many "narratives" about the land, all dependent on ancestry interpretation of religious tracts, current and past, that what is accurate can always be in question. I do not refer to events, but the interpretation of them. Depictions of inhabitants and their rights or lack of them depend on politics and religion. So "accurate" is in and of itself subjective. Actually, I think that a relatively, clearheaded outsider view could likely be most accurate. Do you think that any photograph made in Israel and the West Bank is inherently political? RFS: No. It all depends on the context in which the picture is shown. a mental condition where by a person arriving in Israel becomes intoxicated by the Holy City, gets wrapped up in the surroundings and context of the city, and comes to believe that they are a holy figure returned. Your images have a palpable sense of myth, filled with religious symbols and iconography. When you began to make images in "The Holy Land" did you go looking for religion, or do you think the effect of photographing in such a place has a level of Jerusalem syndrome as an unavoidable side effect? RFS: I was curious about the Jerusalem syndrome and I have photographed priests and church iconography over the years. Within the book, you interrupt the flow of images with fragments of text. Text has a huge impact on images, acting as a kind of Rosetta Stone for the reader. Where did they originate from, and what effect do you think they have on the reading of the images? RFS: In most cases, the texts came directly out of the mouths of individuals I met. These individuals do not always appear in the book. Some of the texts evolved in other ways. I hope that the text fragments raise questions and affect the reader emotionally. Your images have a very distinct aesthetic, they transform the everyday into something more subjective and strange. Would you qualify any photograph you make as a document? How would you describe your relationship with fiction? RFS: I don t think that my photographs are documents. When I look through a camera lens, I want to feel a visceral connection intimacy, if only for a moment. I admire the works of Ingmar Bergman, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett. In 2010, Fox Solomon was commissioned by Frederic Brenner to take part in This Place, a photographic initiative taking its inspiration from the likes of the Farm Security Administration and involving photographers such as Jeff Wall, Stephen Shore and Josef Koudelka, with the intention of building a portrait of the current state of Israel and the West Bank. Gregory Barker recently corresponded with the American photographer to see what she discovered in the Holy Land. Gregory Barker RFS: Am I correct in thinking you grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a stone's throw from the Appalachian Mountains? In my experience, it is an area with an extremely overt relationship with religion. Driving through the mountains, you can't go for more than a mile without seeing a Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal or Jesus Name church, practising old religion. Do you think spending your formative years in this kind of environment had an effect on what it is that you photograph? RFS: I grew up in Highland Park, Illinois and moved to Chattanooga when I married. I photographed southern evangelists in the early seventies, but from 1978 on my photographs of ritual were related to how people cope with their struggles. Your previous works include making photographs in Peru after a natural disaster, producing portraits of people who had fallen victim to the AIDS virus, as well as the troubles in Northern Ireland. What is it that draws you to photograph what many would refer to as "difficult" subjects? RFS: I am often drawn to photograph what people consider difficult subjects because I am concerned with world peace, discrimination, repression and violence. How do you think Them corresponds to the other photographers work in the series? RFS: I can only address my own work. My process is awkward. I set up a framework to keep myself going, but I don t know exactly where I am going. I do not have an advance notion of what will result. Did you have any preconceived notions of what you would find, and ultimately photograph, when you reached Israel? The figures in Them stare at us in a direct, yet seemingly casual, unposed way, as if they may be waiting for their photograph to be made by a friend. How did you come across your subjects, and what was the extent of your relationship with them? RFS: In the beginning, I followed my nose. I structured my days around taking portraits, when I could. Otherwise, I chose to go to places where I would find people. I went to the beach, to coffee houses, to a bus station. I sought out pilgrims and visited Christian sites in Bethlehem, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem. I was introduced to a labour leader from Sierra Leone who allowed me to photograph him and to visit his family. He invited me to photograph a communal celebration. What I did was random. I came across the people I photographed through friends and connections at home. I developed some close relationships but most of my pictures are of strangers. Usually, I don t pose people and I don t feel that it is necessary to engage them in meaningful conversation. I try to perceive and sense who they are and they become that in my pictures. One image that feels emblematic of your series, is your portrait of a man dressed as Jesus, presumably suffering from Jerusalem syndrome, I've heard you say that your images work as a cipher for your personal history and emotions no matter their subject. How did this process work during your production of Them? RFS: I discussed the influence of my personal life on my work in Peru 25 years after my work there. It was 20 years after the major exhibition, Portraits in the Time of AIDS, that I spoke of my personal motivation for doing that work. It is too soon to discuss the significance of my personal history and emotions related to the production of Them. Let the book be the book! An exhibition of THEM curated by Charlotte Cotton, will tour for the next two years, ending at Brooklyn Museum of Art in This Place October 24 March 2 DOX, Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague PoupÄ tova 1, , Czech Republic THEM MACK July / 144pp ISBN:

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