On Archaeology and Pirates, 2020

About 8000 years ago, following a substantial ice age, a piece of land now known as ‘Doggerland’ sank under the waters of the North Sea. Doggerland used to connect England with mainland Europe; apparently in the past one could walk completely dry from London to Berlin or Amsterdam. This submerged landscape currently rests on the sea bed, the dark waters and thick marine sediment have made Doggerland unreachable and invisible. Nowadays, it is very rare to explore a truly foreign land, a real ‘lost world’. However, the waters have placed Doggerland far beyond the reach of any modern expeditions or studies.

The parallels between Doggerland and the photographic medium in relation to the invisible and the real are fascinating. From the moment it was discovered, photography created an intricate relationship with what we understand as truth and what we perceive as reality.

This body of work investigates the medium's ability to create layered and recontextualised realities that cannot be perceived as unambiguous. The project is premised on an understanding that photography can both create a new truth and document or prove an existing one. Moreover, the project asks about the realism of a physical locale like Doggerland and how it is affected by the fact that it only exists through documentation and the specimens originating from it, rather than through the material presence of the place itself.

File Raiders, 2019

Jason's Tomb is a burial cave from the Second Temple period that endured various upheavals over time, including a looting and an earthquake. The cave was discovered in 1956 in the heart of the quiet Rehavia neighborhood, very nearby the apartment rented by Shir Raz and Tom Azaria. Findings from the site included inscriptions, vessel fragments and objects, as well as engravings, and charcoal drawings that faded and were lost once exposed to the air and documented. Over the course of an ongoing period, Shir and Tom immersed themselves in research on the grave, as it existed in text files. 
The picture formed began raising questions about the truth and the fabrication weaved between the information as well as the documentation, memory, and the strong and fascinating connection between photography and death. Questions that developed into an all encompassing installation, spanning the shift between time and place, from the present, back through the decades of the 50's and the 60's, to images and secrets buried long ago during Second Temple times.

Text by the curator Avital Naor-Wexler from the exhibition catalogue, 2019.

Vale of Siddim, 2018

Asphalt has been created naturally in the Dead Sea;
It can be found on rocks, filling cracks, and emerging from the seabed, eventually detaching and floating to the surface. The rate at which chunks of asphalt mysteriously emerge and arise ashore is not constant and was attributed to earthquakes or seasonal weather patterns. In ancient times, asphalt was one of the only natural resources available in the mediterranean basin, thus the land became associated with materials bearing medicinal properties. During the Canaanite period (circa 1500 BCE), the local population engaged in many forms of trade, with a distinct trade in asphalt. Fishermen and specialists collected and brought ashore asphalt that appeared from the sea. The lion’s share was shipped to Egypt (who then ruled the area), where it was mixed with medicinal herbs and used for embalming.
The Middle East is replete with examples of asphalt being used for construction, as a sealant, and especially as a material with many healing effects. Dead Sea asphalt is considered to be of exceptionally high quality, making it centrally important and extremely valuable. In 1826 Nicéphore Niépce managed to stabilized what consider to be the first photograph, called View from the Window at Le Gras. The material that made that process possible name is, Bitumen of Judea, which is the same asphalt from the dead sea.

Hagra 33, 2017

In a few nostalgic corners, scattered throughout the neighborhood of Neve Shaanan, the dormant eolianite range on which it sits peeks through. Few will notice this stone that builds Tel Aviv (and in fact the whole region), amongst the concrete forests that cover it.
The range constitutes a remnant of a different time; footprints of processes that happened in old places and communities, things that transpire today. The images, installed as sculptural objects in the space, penetrate the concrete walls, exposing the quiet and neglected traces of eolianite from within them.

Mirage, 2017

In 1967, among preparations leading up to the Six Day War, The army’s Military Rabbinate consecrated public spaces in preparation for their use as mass graves. These designated areas included Sderot Rotschild and Kikar HaMedina in Tel Aviv, the National Stadium in Ramat Gan, Gan Sacher in Jerusalem, and more. Nobody expected the Six Day War would end in military “victory”, leading to the period of euphoria that followed; subsequently the stories of mass graves and anticipated catastrophes were forgotten.
The works in this project formulated from a search for a proof of a historical event that ultimately never came to fruition. By using diverse photographic practices, the medium and its ability to create knowledge are confronted. The project questions the way photography produces a document, and how is that possible when an event never actually occurred.

Selected Installation Views


Born in Israel
Based between London and Tel-Aviv

2018-2020 M.A photography, Royal College of Art, London.
2013-2017 B.F.A (cum laude), photography department, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem.
2016 photography and architecture studies, Waseda University and Bezalel Academy, Tokyo.
2015 fine arts student exchange program, Hongik University, Seoul.

Solo Exhibitions and Projects
2020 The Islanders - Part 2, artist residency.
2019 File Raiders duo exhibition with Tom Azaria, Beita Gallery, Jerusalem.
2018 Vale of Siddim solo exhibition, Art Cube artists’ studios gallery, Jerusalem.
2018 artist residency, Arad Art and Architecture, Arad.
2018 Going Lost due exhibition with Naama Lindenbaum, Alliance House gallery, Jerusalem.

Selected Group Exhibitions
2020 Art Licks Tele, Episode 6, Art Licks, London.
2020 Timed Act, Hansen House, Jerusalem.
2020 SWAP Editions No. 5: ISLAND, Creekside Projects, London.
2020 Logical Sense, Hockney Gallery, London.
2020 Are you an island?, Skelf project space, London.

2020 Significan Surfaces, Edmond De Rothschild center gallery, Tel Aviv.
2019 In Print JLM, art book fair, Hansen House, Jerusalem.
2019 Everything The Same//Everything A Little Different, The Art Academy, London.
2019 Exposure, AIR Gallery, Manchester.
2019 Adam’s Rock, MoBY museum, Bat Yam.
2019 Offprint, art publishing fair, Tate Modern, London.
2019 Brexhibition, Dyson gallery, London.
2019 There, a Distant Sea Shore is Revealing, Banim gallery, Rishon Lezion.
2019 WIP Show, Royal College of Art, London.
2019 Our Skins are Porous Too, Skelf project space, London.

2018 InTransition, Cuckoo’s Nest, Jaffa.
2018 Refugees edition 2, Abraham Hostel gallery, Tel Aviv.
2018 XL-XS Travelogues and Manifestos, Bezalel Photography Gallery, Jerusalem.
2018 Refugees edition 1, The Red House, Tel Aviv.
2017 Night Light, art and installation festival, Tel Aviv.
2017 Print Fair#2, The Print House, Tel Aviv.
2017 Talking Bones, Artspace TLV, Tel Aviv.
2017 Mirage, Bezalel Academy graduate exhibition, Jerusalem.
2016 Transmutation, Bezalel Photography Gallery, Jerusalem.

Artist Talks and Lectures
2019 Everything The Same exhibition artists in conversation with Ramona Guntert, The Art Academy, London.
2019 gallery talk with Tom Azaria and Avital Naor-Wexler, in conversation with Michal Bar-Or and Musrara Art School photography students,
File Raiders exhibition, Beita Gallery, Jerusalem.
2019 gallery talk with Tom Azaria, in conversation with Ilanit Konopny and Bezalel Academy photography students,
File Raiders exhibition, Beita Gallery, Jerusalem.
2018 artist talk, in conversation with Hadas Kedar and Kibbutzim College art students, Arad Artist Residency, Arad.

Awards and Grants
2019 education scholarship, Royal College of Art, London.
2019 education award, Kenneth Lindsay scholarship trust, London.
2018 studio grant for artists, Roch Chadasha NGO, Jerusalem.
2017 excellence in photography award in memory of Yossi Breger, photography department, Bezalel Academy, Jerusalem.
2015 excellence scholarship, Perach students mentorship program, Jerusalem.
2009 outstanding presidential award, education scholarship for excellence, Mr. Shimon Peres, Jerusalem.

Selected Publications
2020 Hearat Shulaym, Issue 13, Jerusalem.  
2020 Significan Surfaces exhibition catalog, Tel Aviv.
2019 Everything The Same//Everything A Little Different exhibition catalog, London.
2019 File Raiders exhibition catalog, Jerusalem.
2019 Vale of Siddim artist book, London.
2018 Harama Magazine, Jerusalem (Hebrew).
2018 Granta, Tel Aviv (Hebrew).
2018 A5, 11, London.
2018 Wotisart, 11, London.
2018 Average Art, 19, London.
2017 Erev Rav, Jerusalem (Hebrew) .

sshirraz at gmail dot com

© Copyright Shir Raz 2020