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Jenny Rafalson, Borscht, 2015




framed archival pigment print, edition of 5. How and when do we become part of a society, culture or nature? Is it by putting down roots right away? What does it mean? Or maybe it’s a long journey of a few generations? Do I force my belonging to the place I grew up in or do I move on to another place where I’ll be an alien again and maybe will find a new home there? In my work I’m photographing plants in a poetic way to talk about social and political issues that motivate me as an immigrant and an alien in Israel and in the US. I see the plants as a carrier of hidden history. Such as the American landscape and culture has been shaped by immigrants and invasive species. Israel has shaped in a similar way too. Growing up as an immigrant from the former Soviet Union in Israel obliged me on a daily basis to re-prove my belonging to the country. On the other hand, in the last two and a half years as an alien in the United States, I became an Israeli nearly overnight. This shift in the way people refer to my identity and cultural background made me question my belonging, my identity, my yearning of belonging to Israel and the roots I thought I had back home. For the past two and a half years I have been questioning the meaning of nostalgia, memory, foreignness and belonging, I looked at those questions through plants and landscapes. I began by photographing and researching the history of the Sabra plant. Sabra is a Hebrew word with Arabic origins and refers to a Jewish man born in Israel. However, the Sabra cactus, or prickly pear in English, is not a native plant in Israel and was transplanted from the Americas in the 16th century by the Spanish conquerors to Europe for the textile industry. The Sabra plant has a significant position in the Israeli culture, it is so ingrained that it is almost too easy not to question its history.

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15.70 x 23.50 x 1.00 in | 39.88 x 59.69 x 2.54 cm

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