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Koudelka – Shooting Holy Land
The Czech Magnum photographer Josef Koudelka became a legend during the Prague Spring of 1968 when his photos of the Soviet invasion were seen worldwide, marking a milestone of artistic photojournalism. Four decades later, Gilad Baram accompanied Koudelka on a multi-year photo expedition through the Holy Land. His documentary explores the mystery of Koudelka's view by making him an actor in his own pictures.
As a wanderer between worlds carrying the baggage of an Eastern Bloc socialisation, Koudelka encountered inhospitable Israeli-Palestinian border installations, martial war memorials and bizarre Israeli training areas in which individual Gaza neighbourhoods were replicated with exact 1:1 models.
“What a shit” is what the avowed atheist says in light of an irretrievably destroyed "holy" landscape. And yet he retains a touching openness and curiosity to all sides, sometimes even a roguery that Baram is able to capture in beautiful casualness.
Baram's film melts the frozen time in Koudelka's strict black and white compositions and shows the process of image making and appropriation as a tightrope between contemplation and hard physical struggle with themes. Beyond the exploration of Koudelka's work, the juxtaposition of photographs with the film images of their origins causes a reflection on the nature of the equally related and diverse media of photography and film.
Born in Israel, Gilad Baram lives and works today in Berlin and Jerusalem. He studied photography at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and was a photo assistant to Josef Koudelka and Jeff Wall. Koudelka - Shooting Holy Land is his debut film.