The Negev and Judean Desert, in Israel
Although I come from a family of photographers, it was only in my late fifties that I started to photograph. It happened slowly, taking pictures while hiking in the desert. But my becoming a hiker too was a long process. In my twenties and thirties, I could not imagine myself as a hiker on remote desert and mountain trails – or for that matter, as a visual artist, a writer or an open-water swimmer. Over the years, I was able to realize these vague longings in circuitous ways, through a process of slow, inner unfolding. I had to nurture my confidence, taking each small step to overcome my fears of the desert, my fear of heights, of traveling to far-off regions of the world without losing my balance.
For me, the desert is not only intimately tied to Thanatos, it is also very much the realm of Eros. The desert’s textures and spaces evoke visceral memories from a distant if not primordial past; I re-appropriate my body as a source of knowledge of the subversive power of the senses, a power that enables artistic creation. My lens tries to probe this knowledge.
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Born in Curaçao, in 1947, Rita Mendes-Flohr
lived on the Dutch Caribbean island until the age of eighteen. After graduating from Brandeis University in the United States, she settled in Jerusalem, Israel, where she continued her studies in sociology as well as in environmental design. In the early 1990s, she became active as a painter and more recently, as a photographer. She is the co-founder of Antea, a feminist art gallery in Jerusalem, and served as its director and principal curator from 1998 to 2010.
Mendes-Flohr writes creative nonfiction and poetry in her adopted language, English, much of it inspired by her hiking and traveling experiences. Her memoir-cum-fantasy, House without Doors,
based on her childhood in the Sephardic Jewish community of Curaçao, was published in Tel Aviv in 2013, in Hebrew translation. Currently, she is completing a manuscript on hiking in the desert, entitled “Dance of the Desert – Reflections on the Eros of Landscape.
” You can find more on http://www.ritamendesflohr.phanfare.com
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