Ilan Wittenberg's Jerusalem photos transport viewer to old world gallery

Photographer Ilan Wittenberg stands in front of his prints to be exhibited at Te Uru Contemporary Art Gallery.

Photographer Ilan Wittenberg stands in front of his prints to be exhibited at Te Uru Contemporary Art Gallery.

An award-winning photographer is giving Kiwis the opportunity to walk the streets of Jerusalem through a new exhibition.

Ilan Wittenberg is a New Zealand photographer of Israeli descent and has produced nearly 30 large scale portraits which will be shown at Te Uru Contemporary Art Gallery.

The show, Faces of Jerusalem, focuses on the merchants who run stalls set up in Jerusalem's Old City.

ILAN WITTENBERG ILAN WITTENBERG ILAN WITTENBERG

Photo from the exhibition Faces of Jerusalem.

Photo from the exhibition Faces of Jerusalem.

Photo from the exhibition Faces of Jerusalem.

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The diverse cultures and religions, combined with the vibrancy of the merchants and markets were compelling for Wittenberg.

"It's a different world," he says.

"I wanted to know - who are these people? What is life like? And to build a strong, more engaging profile."

Wittenberg's monochrome portraits earned him the Auckland Photographer of the Year 2015 award.

The project began as his fellowship application to the Photographic Society of New Zealand.

He visited Jerusalem four times during 2015 to build his portfolio.

There, he spent days exploring the cobbled streets of the Muslim, Jewish, Armenian and Christian quarters.

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As well as obtaining personal portraits, he would discuss issues affecting the merchants.

"Many people are not happy, you can see that. But for good reasons: the economy is down.

"There are very few customers and very little foot traffic because there is a lot of stress in the streets.

"Wars, religious tension and the ongoing political conflict scare the tourists away."

He decided to produce stark black and white portraits to focus the viewer on the faces.

Since his last visit, violence and unrest has changed the region, making these photographs an historical document, Wittenberg says. 

The Faces of Jerusalem shows at Te Uru Gallery, Titirangi from February 20 to May 1.

Go to FacesofJerusalem.co.nz

 - Stuff

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