Along The Break

Roei Greenberg

2013 - Ongoing


“man is but the imprint of his native landscape”

(Shaul Tchernichovsky)

I was always taken by the idea of the American Road trip, the endless road and vast open spaces. This body of work is an attempt to import this notion into the Israeli restricted territory, an ironic attempt of a journey in search of the intersections between geography, history and biography in the land of contradictions I used to call home.

The Great Rift Valley or the “Syrian - African BREAK” in Hebrew, is a continuous geographic trench caused 35 million years ago by movement of tectonic plates. This topographic phenomenon which crosses contemporary Israel is carving out the Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea and the Red Sea and shapes the physical borders of Israel; with Lebanon and Syria in the north, with Jordan along the eastern front and with Egypt in the south. Route 90 is the longest single road in Israel (470km) and it follows the valley floor of the ‘Break’ from north to south, border to border.

Although the break describes the physical features of the phenomenon, I use it as a platform for my conceptual journey, confronting the break as a metaphor to my sentiment towards my native landscape.

Using a large format camera, I transform the relics into monuments, creating a multi layered photographic perspective; pictorial, poetic and laced with empathy on one hand, yet tinged with irony and underlying ideological tones on the other. Ambiguity runs through the works and sews them together in this ongoing dialogue between the ordinary and the sublime.

Although not visible in any of the images, the main protagonists are the humans whose ideology, religion, and political values have had a transformative impact on the conflicted landscape.

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  • Scenic Route, Timna National Park, the Arava, 2016:

    The road is a main theme in my work. I correspond with the idea of the American road-trip and the image of vast land and endless roads and import that notion into the small, restricted Israeli landscape.

  • Oasis, Old Kalya, north of the Dead Sea, 2016:

    In May 1948, the Jewish population of the northern Dead Sea was evacuated as the Jordanian army took over the West Bank. The buildings of the Dead Sea Potassium Mining Company were transformed into a resort and the area of the Jewish neighborhood became a Jordanian army base. When Israel conquered the West Bank in 1967, the structures of the base were used as the first houses of Kibbutz Kalia. The name Kalia is a Hebrew acronym for: “The Dead Sea has returned to life”.

  • Route 90 is the longest single road in Israel (470km) and it follows the valley floor of the ‘Break’ from north to south, border to border.

  • Landscape Painting On Wall, Dining Hall, Kibbutz Yiftach, 2015:

    I was born and grew up in Kibbutz Yiftach in the north of Israel, on the Lebanon border. The disfunction and emptiness of the kibbutz dining hall, which was the beating heart of the community life and my childhood, is the trigger for my conceptual idea in the work 'Along The Break'. The landscape painting on the wall is the first artwork I remember as it was bought by the kibbutz in 1984, one year before I was born.

  • Transformed Agricultural Machine, kayak road sign facing highway 90, Hula Valley, 2016:

    The Hula Valley is an agricultural region in northern Israel with abundant fresh water. It is a major stopover for birds migrating along the Syrian-African Rift Valley between Africa, Europe, and Asia. The marshland around Lake Hula was a breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying malaria and was drained in the 1950s. A small section of the valley was later reflooded in an attempt to revive a nearly extinct ecosystem.

  • Syrian Tank (1967), Banias National Park, 2016

  • Grazing Area, Tel Kedesh, 2013:

    The Village of Kedes was conquered by the Israeli army in 1948 as part of the independence war. Today it is a grazing area for cows, located 2 km from the Kibbutz where I grew up which was established the same year 1948. 100 meters to the north there is a National Park with the same name, celebrating the ancient remains of the Canaanite City of Kedesh. I remember visiting the park on school trips and later when revisit the park, I was wondering about the complete ignoring of the short term history of the same place while celebrating the ancient history of 2000 years ago.

  • Jordanian Border, view from highway 90 across the border, Jordan Valley, 2013

  • Winter, Tel Hatzor, 2014

  • Mural, Hotel Genosar, Tiberia, 2016

  • Walk On Water, Sea of Galilee, 2018

  • Pieta (diptich), Israeli - Jordanian Border, West Bank, 2017

  • Rearing, Route 90, West Bank, 2018

  • Under Construction, a theatre at Deir Hijla monastery, near Jericho, 2016

  • Dry Water Park, north of the Dead Sea, 2016:

    Its location in the West Bank territories along with the lack of water in the area after years of drought, caused the closing of the park. It was supposed to be a place of co existence where both Palestinians and Israeli can be together.

  • Withdrawal (Layers Of Dryness), view from highway 90, the north basin of the Dead Sea (Along The Break) 2016:

    Due to the ever-growing use of the Jordan River's water for consumption and irrigation, there has been a continuous decline in the Dead Sea water level since the second half of the 20th century. This has caused the drying of the southern basin of the sea and phenomenas such as withdrawal of beaches and sinkholes.

  • Trail, Ein-Bokek, Dead Sea, 2016

  • Alone, watch tower near Pharan, the Arava, 2016:

    Arava is a geographic name for the outback that stretches from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea in the south and forms part of the border between Israel and Jordan. The watchtowers are a returning motive in my journey as they scatter the landscape like monuments for the ongoing conflict.

  • Tents, sunset over the Judean Desert, Dragot 2016:

    The biblical landscape of the Judean Desert with its many historical references and the question that echo while looking at the tents: “are they military base or a naïve tourist attraction?”. The emotional duality runs through the works, sews them together and forms a unique point of view; an ongoing dialogue between the ordinary and the sublime.

  • Roadcut, Red Mountains (Egypt Border), 2013:

    The new border fans between Israel and Egypt have been built to stop the flow of immigration from east Africa into Israel. The layers of the rock along with the layers of the old and new border create this iconic, ironic image of the unique Red Mountains near Eilat.