Ruth Penn was born and is living in Israel. Until the day she retired from directing the Division of Special Education in the Israeli Ministry of Education, she defined herself as a Professional in that field, caring for the well being, pedagogy, organization and budgeting for children (ages 3-21) in the educational system. The minute she retired at the age of 60 she has suddenly felt a sense of utter freedom and urge to fulfill her hidden artistic desires. She has been a person of words and texts her whole life until that moment.
Gradually she was overwhelmed and amazed by the sights of beauty as well as imperfections of the world around her. Since she always has her iPhone in her hand, it was easy and joyful to have become a visual person. She finds herself scanning the environment every single moment, imagining how it would look in a photo.
Then she has discovered editing and found out that she can bring the scenes and objects she has shot to the image they scoured in her mind and imagination. For her, the shot itself is only the beginning, the basis for the image she has in her mind.
She is immersed in and passionate about her art. It gives her joy and calmness as well as a storm in her being. “I am so thankful for that revival and happiness. My husband and I travel a lot to many different countries. I constantly look for beauty as well as dilapidated buildings and surroundings, for action in the streets, for hidden beauty as well as hidden destruction” she is telling.
And she snapshots all the time. Then she works on the photos until they fit the mood she envisioned for them. Her husband, three sons, and their spouses and their grandchildren are the real joy, support, and pivot of her life. She is proud of each one of them, as they are with her now and in her former career.
it seems to me that since the outburst of COVID-19 at the beginning of the tear 2020, I, or actually, all of the people of this planet have been living in an alternate, surreal, unimaginable, incomprehensible world. It has become a world that only the imagination of authors or film script writers or painters would imagine. it is a world of solitude, suffocation, prison like existence. Alienation was the name of the game. We all drowned in oceans of fear, dread, information and misinformation. We have all been counting the daily toll of deaths.
Looking out the window I saw a world that had come to a stand still. Nothing was recognizable. Everything was estranged, surrounded by a hue of haze and uncertainty. But, bits and pieces of our previous life kept crawling into this strange reality: an occasional sound of an ambulance siren, leaves and branches dancing in the air, a forgotten plastic bag on the pavement, a facial mask (that extra skin that was glued to our faces) that someone uncarefully cast aside, a cat running in amok, a sudden sound of birds’ wings…somehow the reminders of the past were still there, in our aching, stripped world.
That is exactly what I was trying to show in this series of photos. A vast, empty, alienated environment, that could have been bustling with life or probably was, indeed, bustling with life in a different era; a vast space that everyday objects fought their way into, as declaring: we are still here and will come back full force! So, remember the past, remember the future and heal. some of the objects in the photo literally do not belong there. They are creating an alternative world of their own, pretending to have always been there. They remind me of reality, however, they have created a surreal world of their own. It seems normal but it is not. As if whispering to us that the old world was there, the new world is here, and the new world is going to be even more misunderstood, estranged and peculiar. The world after COVID-19 will not be the same as the world before the plague. Here is a glimpse: in this series of photos.