Aaron C. Greenman: A Candid View Of The Holy Lands, Part 1

This is the first part of a two-part blog post about Aaron C. Greenman’s recent work in Israel, with the first part concentrating on Jerusalem and the second part the Israeli countryside.

The term “the Holy Lands” ‑ depending on your place of origin, education and religion ‑ conjures up different places and images to different people. As an American-born Jew ‑ and despite having lived and worked on four continents ‑ Jerusalem has always struck me as not necessarily holier than any other city, but certainly as deeply historical, spiritual and, as I grow older, mystical.

During my recent travels to Israel, with a concentration on the old city of Jerusalem, I have tried in a small way to reconcile the overwhelming presence of religion, which the dictionary broadly describes as a set of beliefs that concern the cause and purpose of the universe, with my decidedly agnostic outlook and interest, above all, in a set of aesthetic guidelines designed around three words: “acuity,” “color,” and “grain.”

Certainly no one would argue with the fact that religion(s) can inspire the creation of superb beauty ‑ art, architecture, music, and fashion ‑ and at the same time cause conflict that over history has resulted in some of the most ugly behavior the world has experienced. These contrary forces all blend, push and pull to create a place that, to an outsider, is at one time confounding and endlessly fascinating.

As a photographer, I believe that the most powerful images are those that speak without words, that convert the simple and temporary ‑ the moment ‑ into a lasting effect that remains fresh forever. Thus I will leave it to a much more talented writer  to try to describe such a captivating place with words:

“Jerusalem is a festival and a lamentation. Its song is a sigh across the ages, a delicate, robust, mournful psalm at the great junction of spiritual cultures.” – David K. Shipler

– Aaron C. Greenman

Aaron C. Greenman has been a photographer for over 25 years. He was originally profiled on the Leica Blog for his photography in India in September 2010. After living in the United States, the United Kingdom, Kenya, and India, and traveling extensively, he currently lives and works in Belgium. More of his work, and in particular of his Holy Lands travels, can be viewed at www.acuitycolorgrain.com. His first monograph is available for the iPad here.


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  • your essay is beautiful but very shy. you look veiled with a double Burqaa over yourself and afraid to get more intimate, mostly coming from the back, as if allergic to confront directly your brothers who worship the Maker of our existence. Religion was never the cause of conflict, man was. Man was the cause of conflict in abusing religious matters, agnostic matters, mythological, scientific, ethnic, dominative and even kitchen matters. I don’t agree with your notion that Religion is the cause of conflict, i find that comment a sign of ignorance. I hope on your next Religious project you get inside the bread of the people who still worship our Creator, because those are the cream of his Creation, if you can see them. Al-Salam. M.

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