© Ad van Denderen
In the 1960s Ad van Denderen found himself in Beit Yanei, a small cooperative agricultural community in Israel, halfway between Haifa and Tel Aviv. The cooperative comprised some fifteen Jewish families who had arrived in Israel after the Holocaust, full of optimism and with high expectations of building a new future. In the six months that Van Denderen stayed he became part of a flourishing social community. On Holy days we ate together, proposed toasts and talked at long tables in the garden; there was a perspective for the future. Palestinians and Israelis worked side by side on the land. There was hardly any animosity.
Since the 1990s Van Denderen has again been taking photographs regularly in Israel and in the regions of the West Bank occupied by Israel. He visited Beit Yanei once again in 2005, and found little was left of the social cohesion of the 1960s. The cooperative had seen its best days; selfishness, religion and capitalism had driven a wedge into the solidarity of the small community; wars, suicide attacks, fear and distrust had done the rest.
Palestinians (Arabs) were no longer to be seen in the fields or on the roads, and now lived apart from the Israelis.
After years of doing journalistic/documentary photography, primarily in black and white, Van Denderen has recently begun to distance himself somewhat from that direct style. Increasingly he uses coloured images that serve as a metaphor for what is happening on the West Bank. He tries to mix the two genres in order to create a more thoughtful image of the precarious and complex situation which has existed there for several decades.
Stone is a recurrent factor in this region, both as an object to be thrown and to be used in the construction of houses or security barriers. To an important degree, stone defines the landscape and even the soil hydrology. It can serve as a weapon, or as an obstacle, but it also offers shelter.