Dikla Laor lives and works in the Golan Heights. With boundless emotion, she photographs beautiful women in an amazing mountainous landscape bathed in bright light as a backdrop. For each woman, who represents an allegorical story from the Bible, Dikla Laor photographs characteristics that can only be contributed to her, and in turn contributes to the image. “Photography is a significant part of my daily life… it charges and fills me. The camera enables me to see life through a single frame, each time I discover a whole world, to contain all the beauty in it, to examine it, to see what the eye does not see in a single glance…” writes Dikla Laor. Indeed, the beauty characterized by her ongoing work constitutes the thread connecting all her creations.
Her photographs look more like Renaissance paintings, dramatic, epic scenes of a moving traditional hue. With her camera lens, Laor depicts, in a powerful ode, the features of her characters. An integral part of the positioning of these heroic women is related to their striking and impressive external appearance, which often connects, as a psychological mirror, to their mental compartments.
Biblical stories and figures have always inspired artists and creators from many diverse cultures and creative spectrums. The Biblical world offered fascinating stories and imaginative dramas that have been translated visually into paintings, drawings, engravings, tapestries, wall draperies, as well as films, musicals, outdoor sculptures and theater plays.
Works of art based on the stories of the Bible were used by the Church to educate, inform and instruct the common people, and the biblical stories were transmitted visually and realistically through their eyes to the hearts of the faithful. We are familiar with the sculptures of Michelangelo, David and Moses, or Gregorio Lazzarini of the Renaissance, who painted the amazing figure of Yael, or the work of Cristofano Allori, describing the death of Sisera. The image of Abigail is perpetuated in the work of Antonio Molinari, whom he paints delicate and relaxed against the background of the battlefield from which King David came to her.
In Israeli art throughout generations, Biblical stories also played an important role in the work of new artists who created here. The wild landscapes of the Land of Israel have always been an excellent and dramatic backdrop for the commemoration of biblical heroes. The artists Abel Penn, Ephraim Lillian and Raban saw Israeli women as something very romantic and exotic. Aryeh Aroch, Moshe Castel, and Aharon Kahane, like many others, focused on mythical biblical themes. Like them, Avshalom Okashi, who painted the vision of the dry bones, Meirovich, who painted the burning bush, and Abraham Naton, who painted David and Saul.
The transition to direct interpretation of Biblical images in photography, especially of feminist women with magical power – is a refreshing and updated innovation by Laor. Her work draws both religious and secular publics closer to traditional scenes and stories, which they do not always know about and do not always have the chance to come across. In the same way, artist-photographer Adi Ness took his series of Biblical heroes, based on his photographs of the homeless.
In the series of photographs, dominant and well-known women are depicted, whose stories are known, such as Tamar, Amnon’s sister, Naomi, Ruth and Orpah, Bat-Sheva, Miriam the prophetess, Dvora the prophetess, and Rachel and her sister Leah. Alongside them, Dikla presents other female figures, such as Atalia, the wife of Job, Hannah the mother of Samuel, grey figures of less known characters, whose stories are not well known, and the exhibition allows the public to become acquainted with their stories.
For each Biblical theatrical scene, Laor finds an ideal landscape to present her interpretation of the figure, and each of these beautiful women is equipped with typical appropriate requisites. In this manner, Rachel’s last moments are described during Benjamin’s birth, when the woman’s head rests on a rock in nature; the body of the concubine at Gibeah is placed on a donkey on the way to be butchered into 12 parts; Lot’s daughters holding hands, agreeing, just before entering their father’s cave; Queen Atalia painted against the backdrop of a storm of clouds and vultures in the sky that herald death; Ishmael in Hagar’s hands, both gazing at the crescent moon, symbol of Islam, as a promise; and Dvora the prophetess is adorned with a magnificent dress in bold colors. As mentioned above, every object has a role in the photographed story, every gesture of the body language has a meaning, and every background has the goal of highlighting the dramatic contrast between the story and life itself.
Dikla Laor, a brilliant photographer, updates and creates in her photographs powerful modern contemporary images of leading women, some of whom are unknown to the audience – and their faces are first revealed to us through her artistic interpretations. Laor photographs with exemplary precision, leaving her audience with a deeper understanding.
Doron Pollack, Curator, The Artists Museum Project.