Satellites: Photographs by Jonas Bendiksen  21 July 2006

21 July - 8 October 2006

© Jonas BendiksenFrom 21 July to 8 October 2006, the Jewish Historical Museum will present the work of the Norwegian photojournalist Jonas Bendiksen (1977). The exhibition, with some 100 photos, will offer a fascinating and often moving portrait of life in remote, little-known areas of the former Soviet Union. The museum will also display photos by Bendiksen of Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip before the Israeli withdrawal. It will be Bendiksen's first solo museum exhibition.

Jonas Bendiksen (a candidate member of the renowned photo agency Magnum) spent five years exploring the fringes of the ex-Soviet Union. He is fascinated with these satellite states, far from their former overlords in Moscow and orphaned by the collapse of the Soviet empire. Bendiksen's photos depict isolated communities trying to adjust to their newfound independence. In a sensitive but unsentimental way, this young photographer has captured the daily lives of people in search of an identity and a raison d'être.

Bendiksen's subjects included the people of the Ferghana Valley, where Muslims are oppressed and forced to practice their religion in secret. In the Jewish Autonomous Region of Birobidzhan (originally established by Stalin), he witnessed many Jews departing for Israel to escape poverty and anti-Semitism. One striking series of photos depicts a region of Kazakhstan where the remains of spacecraft fall to earth. We see dead cows in a pasture, casualties of a highly polluted ecosystem. In another photo, thousands of butterflies flit around the wreckage of a rocket that is being dismantled.

In addition to Bendiksen's work on these regions, the exhibition at the JHM will include photos that he took in the Gaza Strip. Until 2005, several thousand Jewish settlers shared this narrow stretch of coastline with more than one million Palestinians, but the two groups inhabited very different worlds. Colour photos of the Israelis, alongside black-and-white pictures of the Palestinians, reveal disturbing contrasts.

Jonas Bendiksen's work appears regularly in magazines such as National Geographic, Newsweek, GEO and Sunday Times Magazine. He has received major prizes, including the Infinity Award from the International Centre of Photography in New York and first prize in the Pictures of the Year International Competition. In 2001, Bendiksen took part in the World Press Photo Masterclass in Rotterdam.

Satellites has been created by Jonas Bendiksen in collaboration with Magnum Photos. Aperture has published a book to accompany the show, bearing the same title (€39.90).

For visual materials and/or more information, please contact the Communication Department:
T +31 20 5 310 370 / F +31 20 5310 311 / E Communication. The JHM is open daily from 11.00 to 17.00.