Photgraphy: Noa Sheizaf
7/2015 and ongoing
It’s complicated to live in Israel, and my feeling is that during the last two years, since the war “Tzuk Eitan” (July August 2014) life became almost unbearably complex. As if the air in the country became more compressed and saturated with tension, anger, violence and fear. This project was born out of the need to dilute the proximity of this air and allow me to breathe, and from a desire to connect myself and the people around me to joy and laughter.
I was born in Israel and I have lived here all my life. I have a beautiful family, my husband and I make a good living and we have everything we want and need. But life in Israel, even if comfortable and modern is characterized by constant tension between quiet routine and the constant threat of a terror attack or a war that will turn this routine into something terrible..
Living in the shadow of daily conflict makes the people here rough, cynical and uncompromising. People move from one extreme to another, sometimes completely insensitive and other times the most sensitive in the world. Alongside the greatest pain there are incredible moments of human kindness. Alongside the terrible sadness, there is the ability to laugh and celebrate with the greatest of joy. I want to connect to this place of laughter by way of this project.
I chose to shoot a series of portraits of people sticking out their tongues, a childish act of defiance that we don’t do as adults. I started out with the thought that just asking people to stick out their tongues for no clear reason so I can take pictures will make us laugh, and that would lead to an amusing photo.
Of course, once I started taking photos of people sticking their tongues out, I discovered a whole world of tongues, each person sticks out their tongue in their own unique way and each tongue has its own shape, character and texture. The tongue has various meanings in different contexts: Sticking out the tongue can be an act of defiance, a sexual act, shyness, concentration, disregard, and in Chinese medicine the tongue is the mirror of the human body.
The project is photographed in black and white, which for me highlights meaning and depth. A black background, clean form photography allows for focus on the person and their tongue without any distractions. I photograph anyone who wants regardless of gender, age, religion, nationality, political affiliation or sexual orientation. My goal is to create an interesting and entertaining mosaic of people, adults and children sticking out their tongues against the harsh reality of life in Israel.