Rabbi Shlomo Goren at Kotel, Six Day War, 1967
Rabbi Shlomo Goren at Kotel, Six Day War, 1967 David Rubinger / Government Press Office

In honor of Israel’s 70th anniversary, a new exhibition of David Rubinger photography will open at the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv. Curated by Guy Raz, the exhibition is called David Rubinger/I Captured the Truth, 1947-1997.

The exhibition is a journey into David Rubinger’s memory. Rubinger was one of Israel’s photographers who mediated between history and us, capturing decisive moments and places. The exhibition also affords a view of the past, taking us back to moments of hope and despair in the State of Israel. It shows a concentrated selection of photos Rubinger captured over fifty years of creative and documentary work.

The exhibition will open to the public on Friday, October 26, 2018.

Paratroopers after liberating Western Wall, 1967 / Handout via REUTERS
Paratroopers after liberating Western Wall, 1967 / Handout via REUTERS David Rubinger / Government Press Office’s archive

Paratroopers at Western Wall, right to left: Chaim Oshri, Yitzhak Yifat, Zion Karasenti, Old City of Jerusalem.

Lifesavers “Emil and Yoske”, 1952; Yosef Weisman and Amiel Avneri, Tel Aviv
Lifesavers “Emil and Yoske”, 1952; Yosef Weisman and Amiel Avneri, Tel Aviv David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

The photographer, David Rubinger, Israel Prize laureate for photography who died last year, was one of a small selected group of photographers whose works are etched on local and international memory. In his photographs, Rubinger, who was called “The family photographer” of Israel, displays the album of our lives.

His endeavor began at the end of the enlisted “Zionist photography” period that dominated the local photographic scene from the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The new generation of photographers formulated a freer Israeli photography, primarily expressed in the Haolam Hazeh weekly.

David Rubinger
David Rubinger Oren Nahshon / FLASH90

The early decades of the State of Israel were characterized by a collection of photographs spanning two extremes on the human spectrum: On the one hand, a glorified picture of the new state composed of strength, military power, magnificent victories, the liberation of Jerusalem, new construction, building kibbutzim, and revived Israeli nature; and on the other hand, pictures of evicting Arabs in the War of Independence and the aftermath of the Six Day War, alongside pictures of new immigrant transit camps, draining the Hula, funerals of fallen soldiers in the Yom Kippur War, and more.

In these years, attempts were made to keep up with what was happening in the field of photography in the Western world through contests and imported exhibitions – among them the international exhibition The Family of Man at the Tel Aviv Museum (1958). Inspired by the photographers of the period, the photographed reportage, and the idea of the “decisive moment” formulated by the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1932, local photographers attempted to capture moments that told a human story or a visual episode. This was a photograph faithful to the subjective truth of each and every photographer. The image captured in the eye of the photographer, and turned the transitory into the immortal.

Hijacked passengers disembark Hercules aircraft at Ben Gurion airport
Hijacked passengers disembark Hercules aircraft at Ben Gurion airport David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

The Entebbe Operation: Hijacked passengers disembarking Hercules aircraft at Ben Gurion airport, 1967.

Arab refugees leaving Jerusalem after the Six Day War, 1967
Arab refugees leaving Jerusalem after the Six Day War, 1967 David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

At that time, Rubinger, like many of his colleagues, took his photos with analogue reflex cameras, in other words, he never saw the image at the moment it was photographed; it is, in fact, the capture of a moment that surfaces as a memory only after it is printed in the laboratory. The image captured in the photographer’s negatives is a mediator of the truth and reality as we knew them prior to digital photography. All of Rubinger’s 500,000 negatives, kept in the Yedioth Ahronoth archives, are the sum total of fractions of seconds that he did not see when he took these photographs.

Return of Six Day War Egyptian prisoners at POW exchange ceremony, 1968
Return of Six Day War Egyptian prisoners at POW exchange ceremony, 1968 David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

Yoram Perry (R) and Yitzhak Rabin voting at the Labor Party convention
Yoram Perry (R) and Yitzhak Rabin voting at the Labor Party convention David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

Thus, the exhibition is a journey into the memory of Rubinger – one of Israel’s photographers who mediated between history and us, capturing decisive moments and places. It is also affords us a view of the past, to moments of hope and despair in the State of Israel. To this end the exhibit shows a concentrated selection of photos that Rubinger captured over fifty years of creative and documentary work. It is the first attempt to present a mixed museum exhibition of his professional endeavor – both from the aesthetic point of view and the documentary one.

The choice to position well-known historical photos alongside less known ones that bear an aesthetic or political connection, seeks to express interpretations with added value, as well as regarding the photojournalist and his work as an artistic photographer as well. For example, the pair of photos, The Lifesavers at the Tel Aviv beach (1952) alongside The Parachutists after the retaking of the Western Wall in Jerusalem (1967): This meeting shows Rubinger’s heroic photographic angle that he formulated over time, the straw heats turning into soldiers’ helmets, bathing suits turning into military uniforms and combat vests, the liberal city along the sea clashing with the city of stone and religion. The five men share a look toward the horizon – a look that holds both the past and the future. From here we embark on a time journey into our past, a journey that calls for self-examination and introspection: What is our own personal truth?

MKs Binyamin Netanyahu and Moshe Katzav conversing at Knesset cafeteria, 1995
MKs Binyamin Netanyahu and Moshe Katzav conversing at Knesset cafeteria, 1995 David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

Egyptian President Anwar Saadat and Prime Minister Menachem Begin conversing
Egyptian President Anwar Saadat and Prime Minister Menachem Begin conversing David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

Egyptian President Anwar Saadat and Prime Minister Menachem Begin conversing at Aswan, following peace treaty, 1980

Beitar Jerusalem vs. Hapoel Tel Aviv, 1975
Beitar Jerusalem vs. Hapoel Tel Aviv, 1975 David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

Body of Egyptian soldier in Sinai sands, after Six Day War, 1971
Body of Egyptian soldier in Sinai sands, after Six Day War, 1971 David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

Arab prisoners of war at Rafah, the Six Day War. 1967
Arab prisoners of war at Rafah, the Six Day War. 1967 David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group / GPO

Military drill in Sinai, 1976
Military drill in Sinai, 1976 David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

PM Menachem Begin helping wife, Aliza, to put on shoes on flight to US, 1978
PM Menachem Begin helping wife, Aliza, to put on shoes on flight to US, 1978 David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

Paula and David Ben Gurion at their hut in Sdeh Boker
Paula and David Ben Gurion at their hut in Sdeh Boker David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

Paula and David Ben Gurion at their hut in Sdeh Boker, after moving from Jerusalem, following Ben Gurion’s resignation, 1953.

Football game between Israel and Wales
Football game between Israel and Wales David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

Football game between Israel and Wales Ramat Gan stadium, 1959. Seventh on left: goalkeeper Yaakov Hodorov.

Military delegation head to talks with Egyptians, at Museum of Cairo
Military delegation head to talks with Egyptians, at Museum of Cairo David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

Major General Avraham Tamir, head of military delegation to talks with the Egyptians, at Museum of Cairo, glancing at Pharaoh’s mummy, 1977.

Moshe Dayan, standing next to anthropoid coffins, at his home in Zahala, 1976
Moshe Dayan, standing next to anthropoid coffins, at his home in Zahala, 1976 David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

Children during curfew, Jericho, 1968
Children during curfew, Jericho, 1968 David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

Ataf Raza, against background of her home
Ataf Raza, against background of her home David Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

Ataf Raza against background of her home, demolished following suspicion it served as hiding place for terrorists, Halhul, 1969.