In the landscapes of the Golan Heights, the photographer reinvents the stories of biblical women

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Miriam and Moïse, from the book of photographs by Dikla Laor “Women of the Bible” (Dikla Laor)

Women of the Bible Cover

Women of the Bible

By Dikla Laor

180 pages

$ 67.00

So often, when many of us think of women in the Bible, Eve comes to mind. But who else? A aptly titled, self-published photography book Women of the Bible, by photographer Dikla Laor, celebrates dozens of biblical women and aims to highlight the important roles biblical matriarchs played in sacred texts.

“While biblical women have been instrumental in shaping the foundations of human history, the details of their lives are blurry and their voices unclear, often hidden in stories so dear to our hearts,” Laor told me. . “The unrecognized power of women since the beginning of time is a story begging to be told.”

Placing biblical women at the center of the biblical story is part of the recreated scenes approach. For each photo, Laor, who is based in Tel Aviv, Israel, reinvented the traditional projector that focused primarily on men, using his friends and family. Laor also made all the outfits the women are wearing in the photos.

Photographer Dikla Laor, author of the book

Photographer Dikla Laor, author of the book “Women of the Bible” (Courtesy of Dikla Laor)

“In this series of photographs of women, I have chosen to tell their biblical stories and illuminate them through the camera as saviors, historically vital women,” said Laor. “They were strong women acting according to their will or their prophecy, women who gave birth, they were vigorous and influential – they were mothers.”

It all started in 2013, when she launched a photo project focusing on renowned women from literature, mythology and the Bible. She started the project as a way to study the Bible itself, recreating scenes with women, bringing the pages of the Bible to life. Its aim is to shed light on religious photography through a contemporary lens, capturing powerful biblical women near the places where they once lived. In her photo series, she mentions every woman mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.

Laor included a portrait of Job’s wife, Sitidos (Sitis), which led her to think of other women in the Bible. “I learned that I have my Bible, so why introduce women of the world when there are so many women in the Bible? ” she asks. “I haven’t worked on anything else since.”

Although some reports claim that there are around 137 women in the Bible (compared to 1,300 men), Laor said she wanted to include women who appear in dreams and in Bible visions, bringing the total to around 200. women (about 100 were completed). “I want to introduce them all,” she said. “I’ve done half so far; I have another half to work on. It’s a life project.”

All photos are recreated by Laor and give the impression that she is stepping back in time. They are shot in the Golan Heights where she lives in Israel. (The mountain range also continues to Syria.)

It was a perfect place for Laor – a dry, barren landscape representing the desert. It also has lush vegetation which also represents many different biblical contexts. There are also bare mountains for the background, which are related to biblical symbolism. “Bare mountains are linked to death, rebirth and renewal, an element expressed in the photo of Job’s wife,” she said. “Each setting has a meaning and is a motif that alludes to the stories I have read and want to describe from the Bible.”

Among the women she has portrayed in the current series are Pharaoh’s daughter, Miriam and Yocheved, the mother of Moses and Aaron.

Yocheved:

Yocheved: “And the woman conceived and bare a son; and when she saw him that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months, ”Exodus 2: 2. (Dikla Laor)

This does not mean that she has taken to giving respect where none has been given before. “It’s a common thought that women’s voices weren’t heard, or that there weren’t enough phrases or words about them, but they had an influence, they were really strong,” he said. Laor said.

One photo is called “Abigail,” which is said to represent Abigail standing in a field with a donkey, while holding a plate of food. Abigail was a lesser known heroine in the Bible, a humble woman who was the wife of the wealthy Nabal of Carmel. She married the future King David after the death of Nabal. She remains the only woman in the Hebrew Bible described as both “intelligent” and “beautiful”.

Laor’s photograph of Abigail is linked to verse 1 Samuel 25:35: “Then David received from her hand what she had brought him. Then he said to him: “Go up in peace to your house. your voice and I have acceded to your request. “

“The models are all people in my life, friends and family,” said Laor, who has made all of the outfits the women are wearing in the photos.

She also photographed Eve, posing with a serpent in a tree, from Genesis 3: 1. This photo was one of the most difficult, says Laor.

Day before:

Eve: “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field that the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Yes, did God say, You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?” Genesis 3: 1. (Dikla Laor)

“This shoot was with a 70 kilos [about 150-pound] snake, ”she recalls. “I wanted it on Mount Hermon Falls, but the snake didn’t want to go where I wanted to take the picture. We put the snake on the tree, so this photo was designed by the snake. “

There is a great photo of Pharaoh’s daughter in Exodus 2: 5, where she comes to bathe in the river with young girls walking by her side, before she sees the basket. This photo looks like a dream scene, as the women wear white silk and stand knee-deep in a waterbed.

There are also photos of Miriam the Prophetess, Zipporah of Exodus 4:25, as well as Yocheved of Exodus 2: 2, all of which are captured with the female gaze. “I have had the privilege of telling these stories of women in the Bible today from my own perspective,” Laor said.

Each photo gives the impression that it could be a 15th century painting. “I am influenced by classical art, like Baroque and Renaissance painting,” said Laor, as works by Michelangelo, Vinci and Botticelli come to mind when looking at his work.

This series is an important contribution to helping viewers think more deeply about women in the Bible, women they may have ignored before or they may not have known at all.

“I wanted to bring these wonderful figures back to life, and arouse the curiosity of the viewer who often has not read the stories,” she said.

The most significant photo is Yocheved, a photo that shows Laor’s 85-year-old mother wearing a century-old cape that belonged to Laor’s grandfather. “This is my most sentimental photo,” she said.

By studying the roles of women in the Bible, the photographer learned that they had a great influence on the men in the Bible, working almost like forces behind the scenes to help them.

“The mission of Women of the Bible is to tell the stories of the unspeakable, to give a voice to the silent, “said Laor,” and to enlighten those who are hidden in the shadows. “

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