Photographer Gil Lavi, only 24, accompanied for three weeks to the residents of the south and hundreds of MDA volunteers during the war, whenever summoned to treat the wounded and through the moments of waiting. Carrying a moving series of photographs, he tries to explain what drove him to it.
Carmen Sapphire – Maariv | 29/01/2009
Albert the dog crouched in the Tel Aviv’s studio of the photographer Gil Lavi and looked around with a yawn. A knock sounded at on the door jump startled him, then he returned to the normal posture. Albert looked up and watched ass Member of the Israeli pParliament Member Ilan Gilon stepped inside. He has been accustomed to the embarrassment shyness of politicians who come to be photographed for the a campaign.
Gilon sat on a chair, and called Albert to come closer. “Sit next to me, Albert,” he asked. ” Lavi smiled with satisfaction. Albert again did his job and breaking the ice. This trick works great with the politicians of all sorts.
“There are obviously more tools for easing the embarrassment,” says Lavi, “but you can say for sure that Albert provides support and backhand so many times.”
Albert the dog, perhaps more than anything else, can attest to the unusual behavior of the young photographer, aged 24. Lavi is the owner of a commercial photography studio and His his portfolio includes campaigns for clients such as Orange, Deloitte, Brinks & Delta.
How do you create the connections?
“I’m a little out of place. I’m not rude, I am brave. Fear never stopped me from doing things, but contrary to what people think I almost did never initiate things. Did not like turning to turn a potential customer ever.”
“Records only the life”
Lavi was born in Yavne. His mother worked in an Art workshop. His father served as army officer and an avid photo enthusiast. At the age of seven he stepped into the darkness with the 20 years old Nikon camera, and never went away. Like his father he grown to love photography.
“They were laid before me. I picked them,” he says. He photographed everything in its his path, and did not pass on any comer of the house. When he was 14 he started writing for a local newspaper in his hometown. He photographed Israeli delegations to Poland and took portraits. His Portrait of the Mayor of Yavne Zvi Gov Ari was to become his major debut in 2002.
“It was an overwhelmingly negative portrait. The title given to was very encouraging, and it was published almost every week” Lavi recalls. “This is one of the reasons why the paper was closed.”
When called to service at the age of 18 Lavi found himself at the Combat Engineering Corps. After a year in combat engineering, he had to leave the regiment in which he served, and moved the headquarters of the Ground Forces as where he was responsible for documentation of international operations. Lavi met various armies army chiefs of staff, watched from the side, and photographed.
On the day he finished his military service he opened his own business. The free market rewarded his arm shim very quickly, and last year he found himself on the line with international clientele spanning Israel – ,Europe, –and the United States. Between work and projects overseas, Lavi came down to shoot Meretz’s campaign. With war guns thundering in the background, the young photographer found himself on his way to Sderot, “to see what’s happening there.”
Blood and fire? not him. “I do not care about the drama of blood and war. What’s significant is is the people on both sides and their lifestyle,” he declares.
But blood poses great.
“That’s right. Very easy to build a career on the blood, but I decided that I record just life.”
What did you learn about them?
“I learned that people in Sderot have learned to live with missiles. It showed in everything that happens in this city, and it’s shocking. I walked around all day and I haven’t met a living soul. I stood in children playground with slides and carousels, and just nothing. Quiet. I saw three concrete blocks of sorrow, underneath a chair toy with a steering wheel, fixed to the ground.”
“There was a terrible great dissonance between in an innocent graffiti:. A simple toy-soldier dismantling the weapons. This one for me is a frame that tells the story of the children of Sderot. This kind of pictures I was trying to present abroad, clean and clear, because I felt that people do not understand enough what’s going on there. No one can say that is what a kinder garden should look like.”
Unlike the laws of nature
Two projects kept him busy in the early days of the war. The first project, “My South,” documented the local lifestyle, The second was “Soldiers in white” in which Gil accompanied the hundreds of MDA (Israel Red Cross) hundreds of volunteers and employees: Israelis, Canadians, Poles and Germans, -all dressed in white and on high alert.
“What interested me is what causes them to be there,” says Lavi, . “students Students which who were supposed to do matriculation exams, and preferred to volunteer in the middle of the line of fire, family men who leave left their jobs. It was not obvious, instead of sitting at their home in Tel Aviv, people are leaving their friends to wear white uniforms, and help.
You got an answer?
“The most important thing is not to answer this question, but to ask. Most people do not think about it at all. Many times we forget to ask who they are. I found a great deal of courage and determination while everyone just ran away from these cities. It’s against nature.
What were the most difficult moments?
“Just routine was the hardest part. The MDA volunteers see on television when something happens., they They are active, when there is blood. I think the difficulty was the change of life. About 20 people sleeping in one room in armored vests.”
Is there such a photo, an objective?
“No. Photography is trying hard to be objective, trying as much as possible not to take a position. To For me this is not photography at all. No meat and no milk. So as this wasIt seems stupid, because the photographer’s first job is to influence and display take a stand. I believe that every person should express their his position, and in photography that he he has so much power to do so.”