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Lea Golda Holterman

Breaking the Mould

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In this FotoTV profile, photographer-artist Lea Golda Holterman talks candidly about her work and her experiences for two very contrasting projects, “The Prostitutes of Tel Aviv” and “Orthodox Eros”, in which she transforms young Orthodox Jewish boys between 17-20 years old into mythical characters from old Greek mythology and characters from the bible.

Holterman met with women working as prostitutes and interviewed each one individually before photographing them, in order to find out more about their situations and personal stories to bring an intimate perspective to her work. As she explains, “I wanted to break the myth that prostitution equals sex, so I approached this project more from the psychological standpoint.” The first thing Holterman succeeds in doing is giving these women a face, not merely focusing on the physical or sensual. Since they were already the symbol of sex and lust, she focused on exposing the inaccurate impression of this milieu to the public. Although many people within Israel were shocked when the exhibition opened—literally, people could not believe the images were shot in Israel. “Most people simply choose to ignore it even exists”, chides

Holterman. Some good came out of the exhibition for the women who work the Tel Aviv streets. The government was forced to acknowledge the situation and thereafter created projects to help and support the women. Holterman goes on to discuss her second project, Orthodox Eros, in which she drastically changes her photographic style from that of the women prostitutes. Instead of a more subdued approach, she chose to intentionally provoke the viewer by juxtaposing Jewish religion with historical, biblical, and mythological characters.

Orthodox Eros explores themes of sensuality in Judaism and offers an intimate and revealing insight about the young men she has photographed. These Images definitely portray their relationship to their faith, but in a way that is extremely unfamiliar. The relationship to their bodies is also central theme throughout, interestingly connecting the relationship to the artist herself.