Artist Portfolio Magazine – 20 Art Competition
Amir Lavon – Afula, Israel
It’s a long way home
Amir Lavon is an Israeli -based photographer and teacher whose work has been described as “street doco”, simultaneously visceral, hauntingly beautiful, and penetrative. His primary source of inspiration derives from the people he photographs on the corner of president and independence Avenue in Afula, a project which has developed into a documentary book, as well as a lesson plans, entitled it’s a Long way home.
Shooting street at day using only the artificial light that pours from storefronts, street lights, cars, and daylight, Amir captures dignified portraits of a marginalized community that has found themselves, for one reason or another, living on the street or merely passing through.
In addition to exhibiting his powerful collection, it’s a long way home; Amir Lavon will be unveiling a new series portraying individuals from the black diaspora living in Afula City.
It is a journey into both sadness and hope, day light and territories that Amir is familiar with, as are the people in his photographs. And it is an excursion that is illuminative, stirring and ultimately fulfilling. The destination of this trip is president Street and independence Avenue in Afula city, and it is a passage made in the past 10 years.
As the title implies, the book’s focus is on people, on the street. Over 100 photographs of souls grace the pages in glorious black and white. Although this is a photo book, and the images stand incredibly strong on their own, Amir’s self-penned essay that begins the book is essential reading. Superbly written.
It is as raw and real as his photographs, but it also connects with the deeper, spiritual level that this documentarian is on. Amir writes that, “This book is about redemption, strength, and resilience amid addiction, poverty and street life”.
Even though these photographs are incredibly raw, some more so than others, they intensely reflect the connection that Amir has made with the people on president and independence street and embody the message that these are souls that are not completely lost, at least not yet. They exist, and that is where Amir’s Camera does perhaps the most important work – documenting their existence.
“This book is… a comment on the times and the people who birthed civilization, the great Kingdoms of Africa, and how they fell and where they have been scattered. From the Valley of Kings to drug addiction, imprisonment, invisibility, and persecution, just for having frizzled hair. A neighborhood corner brutalized by police. A fragile society opposed by society. Souls Against The Concrete – poor but happy – misunderstood by society at large but still radiating the spirit of kings and queens. This collection of portraits represents a part of black history that shouldn’t be avoided- a small part of a great legacy that should be remembered. The struggles of the world desperately call for a different perspective on the problems we face.”
I tried to produced what has become known as a portrait of the reality of life, living on the streets of Afula city.
as a modern day Amir taking his love and wisdom to the streets of Afula through the medium of photography, his camera, is a powerful tool that connects with reality, just as photographer Daido Moriyama has been quoted; “For me, photography is not a means by which to create beautiful art, but a unique way of encountering genuine reality”.
Amir seeks to dispel fears, capture human dignity, and bring clarity to a world that outsiders rarely visit. This nuanced portrayal of nocturnal urban life offers a powerful and rare glimpse into the enduring spirit of a slowly gentrifying Harlem street corner and the great legacies of black history that live there.
The aesthetics gives way to ethical questions and political issues of belonging, of social status.