Photographer Vardi Kahana (58) grew up in an Orthodox home. Denied acceptance to the prestigious Bezalel School of Arts, she studied photography at the little-known Hamidrasha School of Art. That, however, didn’t prevent her from becoming one of Israel’s most renowned photographers.
Kahana’s skills were honed while working as a freelance photojournalist for local daily newspapers. Her photo titled “A Singer and His Mother” first appeared in the context of a 2003 interview with Nurit Geffen, mother of Israeli pop star Aviv Geffen, and wife of Jonathan Geffen, close relative of the legendary Moshe Dayan. In that interview, published by Yediot Aharonot, Nurit presented her son as a victim of a dysfunctional mythological family.
Kahana told me that “the idea of using the iconic pieta imagery immediately popped into my mind.” Everything Nurit said in that interview fit “the entire emotional baggage linked with the pieta.” The photo appeared again in Kahana’s book Israeli Portrait (2004).
Aviv Geffen made a name for himself as a dissident young leftist who, in the early 1990s, called upon Israeli youth to reject...
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