Monday, February 15, 2010

Third Place MYARTSPACE Art Scholarship Award Winner Natan Dvir

Third Place
Graduate Division,
Art Scholarship Award Winner Natan Dvir

The Third Place MYARTSPACE Art Scholarship 2009, Graduate division award goes to Natan Dvir, Graduate student from The School of Visual Arts in New York, NY. Natan will receive a $1,000 cash award from

Natan Dvir, an already acclaimed, exhibiting artist from Israel, presents a dramatic and compelling body of work on called:


His photographs captures deeply saturated spiritual feelings from different religious events.

Questions & Answers:

Q: The image "AMONA" looks like you have used a special camera it looks as if it may be 3D!

A: No, that's taken with a SLR 35mm.

Q: It also looks staged it's so amazing, how you could get so many people to cooperate with such a situation?

A: As a documentary artist it is important to me not to stage my work. A situation where people are staging themselves seeing me photographing is problematic as well and I will not select such imagery for my work. The picture "Amona" was taken during a day of fighting between hundreds of Israeli border policemen and thousands of Jewish settlers over the destruction of nine illegal houses in the settlement. The buildings were destroyed, but not before 200 people were injured on both sides. The picture itself shows the scene as the policemen enter the settlement and are confronted by the settlers wishing to prevent them from destroying the houses.

Q: You mentioned another photographer who won a journalistic prize for his photograph, can you talk about how your image borders both journalism and fine art?

A: Oded Balilty, a photographer of the Associated Press, took a photographed more or less at the very exact time as I took mine that showed a young Jewish female settler opposing a line of policemen. That picture titles "The Power of One" won almost every possible journalistic prize including the Pulitzer. I see myself as a photographer combining journalistic work with art making. Though many like to separate these two worlds and the photography associated with them, I see them complimenting each other and I am interested in imagery that is interesting both for readers of magazines as well as museum visitors and stands the test of both.

Q: Talk to us about the theme of your work in "BELIEF." I find all of your images extremely interesting and almost surreal. What is the story behind the image the "Samaritans Passover?"

A: The series "Belief" examines how people practice their beliefs and the duality of such practice reflecting in the places it brings them to and the scenes in which they take part. I am fascinated and sometimes frightened by the extreme situations people reach either pursuing or defending their beliefs. On-the-other-hand, I am moved by the way individuals drive strength out of their belief, having a sense of belonging, and security. The various ways of looking and understanding the world lead to different concepts of right and wrong – can different beliefs coexist or are they destined to cause conflict?

The photographs in this series present a direct look at the public, as a whole, and also is the focus of specific individuals and their own experiences. While each image is important by itself, my interest is in the dialogue between the works in terms of content and visual merits.

The picture "Samaritans Passover" presents a group of Samaritan men placing slaughtered sheep into an oven dug in the ground. The Samaritans community is very small and consists of about 800 people living in places in Israel. They see themselves as the "true Jews" and practice their rituals as in the times of the bible.

Q: Do you have favorite works of your art?

A: I like the photo "Prayer" depicting a woman praying amongst reaching hands. One can not tell which religion she practices which I see as an interesting comment about the similarity of monotheistic religions. The picture itself was taken in the Holy Sepulcher Church in Jerusalem during the Holy Fire Ceremony.

Q: What is your main interest as an artist?

A: As many artist and photographers I wish for my art to make a difference. I try to, at least, invite people to reflect on various issues not to say take action trying to change the current status. I give great emphasis to the aesthetic aspects of my photography, but I am interested in it being engaging and thought provoking. Most of my work is a result of my fascination with culture, society, and interests in humanitarian issues.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: My current body of work explores the Arab society in Israel. While Israel is defined as the Jewish state, over a fifth of its population is Arab a fragmented society that experiences an identity crisis and has been somewhat forgotten amidst the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I focus on young Arab men and women as they turn 18 years old — the age at which they graduate from school, become legal adults, and gain the right to vote as Israeli citizens. Unlike their Jewish peers, most do not join the military. As they start their mature life in Israel many face the dilemma of striking a balance between their relatively traditional culture and a modern way of life. Many have strong political awareness and express concerns about being able to study, find work, and attain financial stability in a country they feel is discriminatory.

I prefer to walk away from imagery of conflict and adopt a personal and intimate approach hoping to promote understanding and dialogue. As a Jewish Israeli man I am aware my subjects might regard me as their “enemy." Sensitive encounters, in which the subjects take an active role in shaping their representation and influencing their relationship with the photographer, form the framework for this multilayered body of work.

Q: Can you describe how you felt entering the competition and your reaction to finding out that you had won third place?

A: I am very thankful for the opportunity to share my work using the platform and was happy to hear about the opportunity of receiving a scholarship. I am very grateful for the honor of being selected to receive the scholarship given the fact the expenses on my tuition and projects are quite considerable.

Q: In your opinion, how is the internet changing the landscape of the art world, obviously artists today have more opportunities than they had before the advent of the world-wide-web. What are your thoughts on this?

A: The internet is changing the art world (as well as other fields) in multiple ways, some of which I am not sure we understand or can see forecast the result of. Artists are considerably more capable of distributing their work to a larger audience. The internet is also changing the way we see art and allows new type of art to be created. I see this as one of the more interesting and important changes on the art world today.

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