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Rescue Excavation, The Western Wall Plaza, 2007 C-print 9 7/8 x 14 7/16 inches on 12 x 16 inch paper Signed Edition of 50
(Israel, b. 1971)
Orit Siman-Tov’s photographs examine how diverse factors—geographical, historical, political, social, and religious—shape perceptions of particular places in Israel and also affect the activities of the people who visit them. Her recent Rescue Excavationsseries focuses on the state-mandated excavation projects carried out prior to new construction. Intended to protect valuable archeological findings from being irreversibly damaged, in effect these excavations strip away layers of the current landscape to reveal a glimpse of a location’s past. Officially speaking, these investigations rarely yield consequential discoveries, and new development is usually approved, but Siman-Tov's photographs find these routine procedures to be compelling revelations in their own right. In the process her work sheds light on the constant negotiation of architectural planning, state law, and cultural values, showing these excavation sites to be densely layered constructions of more abstract forces as well. Siman-Tov received a BFA in photography from Bezalel Academy of Art, Jerusalem (1997). Her work has been exhibited in Israel at the Herzlia Museum of Art and the Haifa Museum, and in Chicago at the Schneider Gallery, among other venues. She has received a Young Artist prize from the Israeli Ministry of Education, and she was a finalist in 2007 for the International Jewish Artists of the Year Award in association with the London Jewish Museum of Art/Ben Uri Gallery. Her work is held in a number of public collections, including the Haifa Museum, Israel.