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Clutch

Barak Ravitz, 2017

A car is parked in an empty street, right in front of the camera; a woman sits in the car that’s in front of the camera; a man and a woman stand beside the car that’s in front of the camera; a family and a car in a parking lot, in a group photo, all in front of the camera. This unique collection of pictures, gathered from albums of various families, depicts a small ceremony: here is something worth pausing for. It seems that documenting the family car was a common practice among 1990’s immigrants who had left the Soviet Union behind and started a new life in Israel.
Immigrants are seen leaned against their rst automobile bought in Israel – for many, their rst private vehicle ever. They rest their hand on the car’s roof, celebrating their ownership. These aren’t gestures of kissing the ground of the Holy Land right off the airplane, waving the ag, receiving owners from a waiting family member. Rather, these are ordinary, everyday ceremonies, a documentation of the moments after. Anna Yam’s earlier exhibits featured photos, both original and borrowed, of different times and countries. Portraits, landscapes, interiors, family photos, and photos of random passersby. In light of these, the current collection appears more like the product of a social research: the photos all contain a constant theme (a private car); all portray people with a common story (Soviet immigrants); names and addresses are diligently collected; questions are asked, details are noted, information is thoroughly sought after and examined.
Albums are pulled out of their shelves, reviewed and scanned. Yam’s sensitive eye and acting hand – forming connections between strangers, as if constructing a coherent sentence from a random collection of words – are here to distinguish and unravel. This collection of photos cannot be reduced to a mere sociological document. The mark of photography is omnipresent: a rogue sunspot; a ash of light that penetrates the lens and overexposes the jeans worn by the owner of a white Nissan Sunny; a green shirt worn by the driver of a Mitsubishi Lancer, re ected by the windshield and hood; the rearview mirror of a red car peeks from a warped frame in a photo whose heroine is another car, a beige Ford Cortina, its owner sticking his head out the driver’s window. The same car appears in a second photo, framed at its sides by two green bushes. Children are seated at the front, smiling. The owner, wearing a beige shirt to match his car and leaning against the roof, stands beside it with a serious countenance. He barely ts in the busy frame.
Three family members, all wearing colorful coats, lean against a red Daewoo Racer. Its strong color disrupts the visual balance, and the passengers’ faces are tinted yellow as the sand, in sharp contrast to the white new condominiums at the background.
These all work to undermine the comparing eye, an eye whose scientiFIc gaze seeks to reduce variables, calculate averages, and reach conclusions. Each photo is unique, every case is speciAL.As the photos exhibited here are not a mere collection of data that forms a sociological document, they defy one’s intuitive desire to form and tell a coherent story. The story of immigration should be one of movement and transformation, of a there to here. The car – ostensibly the emblem of movement – fails at its attempt to be the de nitive metaphor for
20 alfassi street ⎢tel aviv ⎥ israel