Portrait of a Country

The Sir Dr. Naim Dangoor Centre for Universal Monotheism

Portraits of Israel in travel books, photo books and sketchbooks from 1948 to present

Between 12-14 February 2020, Bar-Ilan University will host an international research workshop bringing together some of the best local and international specialists in the field of culture and the tourism industry. The exhibition will be open to public until 3 may 2020.

The Exhibition is open to public until 3 May, 2020

Over 40 Workshop participants will share the results of their completed or ongoing research. The workshop will pay particular attention to the relationship between tourism and heritage sites. It will also focus on the technological and cultural breakthroughs that have taken place in recent years in the field of tourism, and will examine the meaning of the term “touristic country”, exploring the creation of new tourist sites and the maintenance of existing ones. It will discuss new technological and commercial strategies put into practice to facilitate access of the tourist to the site / country he or she is visiting.

Exhibition: Portraits of Israel in tourist guidebooks and photo albums, from 1948 to the present day.

Curators Efrat Fridenzon-Harison and Zvi Orgad

This exhibition follows a three-year research project financed by the Israeli Science Foundation (ISF), which explored the representation of Israel (1948–present) in tourist guidebooks in French. “While the original purpose of the study was to examine the way French and Israeli cultures view each other, it was only natural to extend it to other languages and media, such as albums”. Explains Prof Galia Yanoshevsky, the project initiator and adds, “The support of WOW and ‘the Sir Naim Dangoor Centre for Universal Monotheism’ enabled us to execute it at Bar Ilan University as an international cultural event.”

Since the creation of Israel, photo albums, manufactured and distributed by state institutions and ministries, have been an integral part of family libraries and helped forging memories and represent the history of the Jewish state. For Israelis, these albums give visibility to the most important milestones of the birth and development of the country. For foreigners, these albums crystallize a certain image of Israel – they are useful for those who come to Israel to explore and visit the country, and for those who have already visited – they are a souvenir.

 Tourist guidebooks are are temporary and short-lived. They are used over a limited span of time and space, and must be updated periodically. They are closely associated with the culture they spring from and reflect trends in the perception of the “other” and in the transmission of the exotic aspects of the concept “there” to tourists. They orient and direct the tourists’ gaze, while imbuing their impressions with historical and cultural content. Israel’s photo albums and guidebooks have never been regarded as formal History, even though some of them have been used for propaganda purposes. However, put together, they tell stories revealing that the stretch of land about to be visited is multifaceted and perceived differently by diverse audiences.   

Prof. Galia Yanoshevsky from the French Department at Bar-Ilan University has selected from a large body of tourist guidebooks and photo albums, the most remarkable portraits. These allow visitors to catch a glimpse of key moments in the history of Israel, and to follow the country’s evolution in the domain of tourism: from a rich archeological past, to the innovative hi-tech nation. The exhibition’s curators, Dr Zvi Orgad and Efrat Fridenzon-Harison from the Department of Jewish Art, emphasize the material aspects of the album and the guide: the way to hold it, the way to read it. The exhibition, says Yanoshevsky, is a large album, a collage of albums and tourist guidebooks, manifesting a variety of attitudes and visual stratification. The respective qualities of photography and text, the extent of State involvement and private production, and the diversity of target audiences reveal together an astonishingly multifaceted nature of Israel.

The International Tourism Research Workshop and exhibition on the discourses of tourism and it material aspects. will be held at Bar-Ilan University, Wednesday- Friday, February 12-14, 2020. With the support of the Israel Academy of Sciences WOW and ‘The Sir Naim Dangoor Centre for Universal Monotheism’.

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