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Weekend: STARTERS: Big picture The Weinfeld Family, 2009, by Frederic Brenner

May 17, 2014

Photographer Frederic Brenner had never seen a 5m dining table before he sat down to dinner with this Ashkenazi family in Israel. When he learned that the eldest daughter was about to get married, he knew he had to take the picture at that moment, "before there was one less child at the table".

This portrait is part of his latest project, This Place, for which Brenner invited 11 acclaimed photographers from a variety of ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds to join him in turning their gaze upon a country he feels is rife with paradox. Brenner contributed An Archaeology Of Fear And Desire, an exploration of the fragments that make up the fabric of Israeli society. When he explained his project to the Weinfeld family, they were happy to cooperate. No one smiled for the picture, because Brenner believes a smile "is a screen between a person and himself, and a person and the public".

Brenner is interested not just in Jews, but in how people of all religions live alongside each other in Israel. "The narratives of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have been competing with each other for 2,000 years, and the country has an incredible opportunity to have the three talk together - an opportunity we are missing."

Brenner does not want to provide any answers in his work. His image of a man who has lost his eyes and forearms elicits little explanation, "because the photograph is powerful enough. It is about wounds and scars." Ultimately, he wants the viewer to do the work: "I offer no resolution."

Abigail Radnor

Frederic Brenner's An Archaeology Of Fear And Desire, the third book in the This Place series, is published by Mackbooks. A touring exhibition opens in Prague in October.

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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