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Writing with Light
Sigal Kashkash, curator and co-producer of "Writing with Light"

The Essence of Photography \ Sigal Kashkash:

"The book Writing with Light focuses its attention on the importance of light as the main raw material in the art of photography, revealing a less familiar aspect of the book’s creator, photographer Ziv Koren. Koren’s sensitivity to the light source, and the shadows that appear before his eyes, are manifested in this collection of 140 black and white photographs, taken over the last decade in Israel and around the world. The book’s photographs are influenced by Ziv’s internal world and his unique worldview, which succeeds in capturing the essence of light in all its varied forms: sunlight, fog, nighttime shadows, the penetrating ray, the illuminated city, the street light and the dark alley, and, especially, the human being as he appears in the light, in the shade, and in the space connecting them. From the complexity of his approach, and the abundant thought that led to each photograph, one can see that Ziv’s passion burns inside of him. He works hard to understand the medium, its possibilities and its limitations, and he relentlessly challenges his thinking and his vision.

Ziv has been investigating the boundaries of the medium of photography for over two decades. In his work, he stretches the borders of time, place, and perspective, sensitively touching our raw nerves as a global society, and tackles issues that usually remain distant from the public eye, by using a rich variety of raw materials with strata that are social, political and military, local and historical. As opposed to Koren’s previous books, catalogues and projects, which were characterized by a focus on a particular point in time or on a specific territory, Writing with Light examines and investigates, through the camera, the iconography of different cultures, objects and places throughout the world, with the common theme being the stretching of the boundaries of light, with all its various angles and intensities.

Ziv is a photographer about whom it can be said with total confidence that he knows how to read and “see” light. Light is a very prominent and central component of his work, and it is no coincidence that most of the countries in which he chooses to photograph are characterized by lighting that is warm, expressive, and contrasting. His true greatness, however, is in his ability to understand how light and its absence (the shadows) divide the reality captured in his lens into separate surfaces and segments. While the art of photography generally tends to avoid a large number of shadows, Ziv specifically looks for, strengthens, and works with the shadows with amazing virtuosity. The shade in his photographs, which frequently creates totally black surfaces, is a sort of penetrating statement regarding the narrative of the photo’s subject. The shadow threatens to take over the light, and oftentimes that which is hidden within it, what is not visible, what remains in the observer’s imagination – that is the most intriguing thing of all.


Even though on his photographic journeys Ziv often visits places that are stricken by suffering, poverty, fear or persecution, he is not tempted into taking direct, informative photos of the bleak reality. He chooses a higher language, a language that is somewhat informative, but moreover has an object, form, and light, which together tell the story and convey the experience in a deeper manner. 


This book comprises a documentation of the life of over 25 countries throughout the continents, which serves as a tool enabling us to contemplate and examine human society in the global village in which we live. The political, geographical and cultural borders are blurred and become less significant when we contemplate the human experiences documented in the book. A crowd offering a prayer, the sad look of a child, a soldier confronting a humanely impossible situation – these need no political or cultural context in order to stimulate the observer's emotions and introspection. The choice of black and white photographs emphasizes this introspection.“Writing in Light” is a title that expresses a return to the source, to what is natural, to the genuine. It is, in essence, a translation of the word “photography”, which originates from two Greek words: phos (“light”) and graphos (“writing”). And indeed, in the book’s photographs, one can see how light is used to write dramatic impressions and charged nuances that leave a strong imprint upon the viewer. The various uses of light, along with the fascinating subjects that were selected, come together to form a unique collection of universal artistic testimonies."

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