This article explores how socialist egalitarian ideology affected forms of documentation on the kibbutz in Israel, by examining its practices of photography. The study analyzes the work of one photographer, Eliezer Sklarz, and his role and function in the community, focusing on the visual content and style of his work. The article also describes the role of the kibbutz archive in promoting his work and in constructing kibbutz identity through its photographic archive, as a mechanism for creating Zionist kibbutz historiography. The study addresses the conflicted approach of kibbutz society towards photography: promoting documentation through the function of the archive on the one hand, while maintaining a dismissive role towards photography as a highbrow, middle-class practice, on the other.
Photography is supposed to be an international language. But is it really so? My photography is extremely culture-related. Since it’s concerned with human situations, mostly, it could be misunderstood, even meaningless, to people outside Israel. Understanding culture is easier for a native.
I photograph in Israel, for the Israeli viewer. It is not that I am aware of it all the time – but it is always there, in the back of my mind. It’s the way I see. I’m directing the sharpness and irony at us, Israelis.