Between the holy and the mythology

This year’s Bezalel prize winner for photography, Barak Rubin, presents his solo show that explores the creation of myths.

‘Horn Altar’: A piece by artist Barak Rubin. (photo credit: BARAK RUBIN)
‘Horn Altar’: A piece by artist Barak Rubin.
(photo credit: BARAK RUBIN)
Barak Rubin, a Tel Aviv-based artist and photographer, is the latest recipient of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design’s prize for photography.
The prize is awarded annually and the winner receives a NIS 12,000 grant plus a solo show held in Bezalel’s photography department gallery.
Using the First Temple as his inspiration, Rubin’s show, “Kadesh Shalem,” which opened last week, is a part of an ongoing body of work that explores the creation of myths.
In this work, he delves into his own Jewish history and identity and attempts to take an unconventional and unbiased look at the artifacts of a time and place that no longer exists, and examines the remnants in a historical, archeological and religious framework.
The work is a culmination of a year’s worth of research and creative implementation of a variety of sources including the Bible, archeology, mythology from ancient Canaan and Mesopotamia and even Youtube video tours of the Temple Mount given by Likud MK Yehuda Glick.
Speaking about his work to The Jerusalem Post, Rubin says “the work was born out of me wanting to know about the temple mount and I needed to understand what the story was, and I fell in love in with this topic.”
Because of the diversity of sources the artist chose, the five pieces of work displayed in the exhibition come in a variety of media including black and white photography, mixed media, and a technique called chromalux.
A graduate from Bezalel’s photography department in 2014, Rubin pays homage to his education with a large-scale panoramic black and white photograph of ancient ruins in Arad that can be traced back to the time of the First Temple located.
The other four pieces visually represent not just artifacts from that period but also incorporate the ancient mythology of neighboring cultures, a theme important to Rubin’s work: “People at that time were not living in a vacuum, so my research took me to their geographic neighbors, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan.”
This is not the first time he has attempted to uncover remnants of the Middle East’s rich and confusing past.
“I follow Islamic art, it’s something that happened very naturally, to me it’s all about the place.”
Although the Temple Mount holds great significance both now and through history, Rubin’s work attempts to expand the narrative and presents it in a more comprehensive way.
“For me the work is political... It comes from a place where education meets art.
For me, these terms are connected and it’s important to understand and know this narrative.”
As a secular Jew, Rubin maintains a safe distance regarding his own personal history while respecting the volatile nature of the current status of this place.
“I’m not coming here from the position of ‘we were here first.’ I’m talking about a place that doesn’t exist anymore and trying to imagine, because every history combines imagination and reality and this is how myth is created.”
The award Rubin recently won is designed to support innovative work in the field of photography.
“As a graduate of both the undergraduate and graduate program, it just felt right to apply for this opportunity. I am very happy to give this work a home and to finally show this work,” he says.
For more info about the exhibit visit