Many Jews I know who have participated in an organized trip to Israel have recounted that the trip, though fun and unlike any other travel experience, did not feel particularly meaningful until the group reached Jerusalem.
The desert is the complicated site of the historical wandering and settling of many nomadic peoples, representing a great deal of possibility atop mountains of buried struggle. The energy of the desert resembles that of the city of Jerusalem where three major religions are layered in strata of coexistence and conflict. On my most recent trip to Israel, I sought to examine the connection between the desert and the Old City though photography.
Using a high-speed black and white film in my “old school” medium format analog camera, I shot both sites, looking to capture the mysticism and socio-political significance that each represents for me and my experience of the land and its conflict. I organized the resulting images into a small book entitled “Dust,” emphasizing the importance of time and the uncovering of the past in understanding and dealing with the realities of the modern state of Israel.
Lily Gottlieb is a photographer graduating from the California Institute of the Arts this May. She is also an active member of the Los Angeles Jewish community, mostly working with Jewish youth. She will be traveling to Israel as a madricha on a NFTY in Israel trip this summer.