In recent years my primary focus in photography has been on people and an attempt to decipher the "DNA" of the profile – to peel away the layers and create 'transparency'. My work began with observation of the faces of people around me, so that special, less obvious details were revealed to me, those details that are below the surface of the skin – defects, blood vessels, scars – that constituted a sort of invitation to me to invade, an invitation to intimacy beyond the tiny mound on the skin. I looked closer and closer – until it was really impossible to see, until it was actually impossible to identify, until the profile breaks apart. The profiles are of young people from the whole country (Israel). I chose mostly fair-skinned people who also have light colored eyes.
The images were filmed outside the studio, so I took with me the necessary equipment to those who were to be photographed. The photographs usually were done in total silence. I took care that the person photographed would feel comfortable, in his natural surroundings, in order to get from him an authentic facial expression; to create peeling – without a masking layer; to create transparency – together with the actual existence of the face. In other words, I attempted to cast an
additional dimension, a dimension of transparency and reflection upon the face, in the lengthy tradition of dealing with the profile in general, and the genre of portrait photography in specific, by means of emphasizing the transparency through which the faces of those photographed are etched into the viewer's memory.
With sharpness, optimal focus and enlargement of the profile to gigantic proportions, types of events hidden from the eye at first sight are revealed. My activity with these images is with the facial topography that attests to emotion, to the tale they tell. The camera serves me as a scientific, anthropological research tool and as a tool for self-observation.
In my photographs I insist on being reflected in the eyes of those being photographed, as a detail of the picture. This is in order to create a sustainable moment and a total utilization moment in which I try both to be closer and to blend as well as to remain in the position of the photographer observing from without, from afar. Thus an unequivocal 'proof' is created for the particular moment in which the photograph took place. A sort of permanent memory is etched, a 'photographic memory', of that same moment. From these relations between the photographer and the subject, identification and revulsion are created simultaneously, such as those that stem from proximity and remoteness, the invitation to intimacy as opposed to distancing and isolation, which are found together in the photograph. These photographs are hyper-realistic, and are thus subject to the unprotected mercy of the observer's view. Questions arise about esthetics, temptation and beauty in contrast to defects and death: the images require the observer to create a new identity for them that relies on the unique topographical appearance and that same look, an identity not built upon memories or past records, but rather that exists here and now, as it was revealed anew in the photograph.
"When encountering another's face, my look, as opposed to what it usually does, does not succeed in shortening distances – even when it is close, it always remains distant.... The closer the look is to the face, the more it closes in on it, focuses and holds onto its objective aspects; within the framework of attribution that it builds, a deeper, harsher abyss is opened. A face is seen that hides in itself an undeciphered code: despite my attempt to ground the image and turn it into one that is identified, as it were, in this series the indecipherable singularity is palpable, that the profiles photographed hide within them." (from: Panim Dibbur, by Haggai Canaan).
I bring to light questions about eternality as opposed to the rot of flesh, individualism – new identity as opposed to community, past and memory in contrast with the future, loss as opposed to life.