by Irith Gubi

Tell us about your approach to photography. How it all started? 

Yaniv Waissa (YW): Some of my earliest childhood memories involve my dad holding a camera. He taught me the first steps of photography. I still remember how fascinating it was to look through the lens. As an adult and a photographer I understand the motive and urge of my father to collect memories by using the camera and I deeply honor him for that. We use photography in different ways yet with much in common. The basics of photography that my father taught me, are still important to me.

© Yaniv Waissa, ‘Swan Song’

Tell us about your educational path. (fill in school) What are your best memories of your studies? What was your relationship with photography at that time?

YW: In 2001 I moved to Jerusalem and started my Photography and Digital Media studies at the “Hadassah College”. I graduated in 2004 and continued to study photography in a post graduate program at the “Musrara School” in 2006-2007. During the B&W course I was exposed to the work of Dieter Appelt that has strongly influenced my study and my final project  'The Storm Still Rages Inside’. This project still have a major influence about my identity as an adult.

What were the courses that you were passionate about and which have remained meaningful for you?

YW: I loved printing at the B&W lab. The red light, the smell of the chemicals… The printing was like a kind of spiritual act. I also spent a lot of time at the library, searching for photographers that could turn on my inspiration and encouraged me to start my own collection of photo books. 

Any professor or teacher that has allowed you to better understand your work?

YW: Daphna Ichilov was the first teacher that really understood my works. She also curated few exhibitions of my works. So she have a special place in my heart.

What do you think about photography in the era of digital and social networking?

YW: The digital revolution made photography more accessible but it also changed the status of the photographer. I think that not everyone who hold camera is a photographer.

© Yaniv Waissa, 'New Creation’

About your work now, how would you describe your personal research in general?

YW: My works are always very emotional and walk on the thin line between old and new, sometimes between reality and dream. An important aspect of my works is the actual act of photographing the image, collecting or creating a memory. Photography is my way of expression and it always comes from the depth of my heart. The whole process is very important - from the physical act of walking with the camera to the magic behind the lens, the slow editing and the printing.

What about 'The Storm Still Rages Inside’?

YW: Via 'The Storm Still Rages Inside’, I captured stylish freezings of situations indecisively, realistic or imaginary, and not a vivid everyday environment. In each frame I created a poetic, symbolic and dramatic reality, moving on the thin line between life and death, reality and fantasy, alienation and belonging, sanity and obsession, fear, pain and loneliness; while stretching the physical and emotional borders, a process that eventually leads to catharsis.

This project is a milestone in my life as a photographer and as an adult. The process was a form of meditation and confession of emotions that I couldn’t express in words. Someday I’ll  continue it.

'The Storm Still Rages Inside’ was a very strong experience and I stretched all my limits during the shooting and  the printing. Taking the pictures at the different locations was like a journey to the unknown. The physical act of taking the photo lead my body and soul into another dimension. I couldn’t foresee what is going to happen during every session. 
Projects such as 'Inner Stations’ and 'Swan Song’ made me understand that there is something special about being in a place and creating a frame - it’s like being a god who creates a new world.

© Yaniv Waissa, 'The Storm Still Rages Inside’

Do you have any preferences in terms of cameras and format?

YW: Most of the my works made by medium format (Bronica 6x4.5 during my studying) or my favorite large format (Shen Hao 4x5). I have also worked a lot with polaroid cameras (SX 70 and 600) and toy cameras (Holga and Lomo). For snapshots and family stuff I use G11 and Instagram.

Tell us about your project 'Disintegration of a Revived Nation’...

YW: It is my main project since 2007. I’ve been roaming across Israel to examine the relationship between man and nature (and the, sometimes absurd) connection and constant tension between past, present and future. I create an intimate atmosphere in every frame and put my personal feelings, emotions and nostalgia into it. Everywhere I go I recognize a personal memory that can ignite a collective memory of the viewer. 

I believe that the added value of an image is the ability to make the viewers give it their own interpretation and by that give the image a new life. I am an Israeli photographer who deals with the identity of a complicated and revived nation, but I believe that my work could also reflect the reality of other nations. This is the reason why I intentionally avoid Israeli characteristics and create more universal frames.

© Yaniv Waissa, 'Disintegration of a Revived Nation’

Is there any contemporary artist or photographer, even if young and emerging, that influenced you in some way?

YW: There are a lot of photographers that I really love such as Laurent Champoussin, a master of self making books, Christophe Le ToquinGerry Johansson, Andreas Gehrke and many many others.

Three books of photography that you recommend?

YW: 'Skeltons in the Closet’ by Klaus Pichler, 'Deutschland’ by  Gerry Johansson, 'Topographie’ by Andreas Gehrke.

Is there any show you’ve seen recently that you find inspiring?

YW: Few months ago I saw the “Magnum Contact Sheets” exhibition, it was really interesting idea for exhibition and the way of presentation was very exciting.

Projects that you are working on now and plans for the future?

YW: Lately I’m mostly dedicated to my daughter.  Yet I am still searching for a publisher for the project 'Disintegration of a Revived Nation’. I am also working on the archive, and I’m finding works that had been forgotten over time. I would love to be able to publish some of these works, with different formats and concepts.

What do you think about Israeli photography? Is it distinct from photography produced in other countries? In what ways?

YW: Right now I’m a little bit outside of the Israeli art scene. I think the Israeli photography has been influenced by The New Topographics and German Photography. My favorite photographers are Yaakov Israel, Sharon Ya'ari, Gilad Ophir, Roi Kuper, Simcha Shirman and Pesi Girsch. 

© Yaniv Waissa, 'Disintegration of a Revived Nation’

Finally  I would like you to comment on this sentence I found on an interview with Dieter Appelt in relation with the situation in Israel. «Everyday, we are bombarded by millions of photographic images which by the time evening comes are dead in our memory. Sometimes not just what comes out of my mind, but what I conceptualize in my head is equally important. The mystery in art still exists for me. The more this reflection of something of magic, mysterious, is represented in a work of art, the more we can learn from it.»

YW: First of all I’m not a political photographer, although it’s hard to separate my art work from the political context of my everyday environment. For years I haven’t even expressed any political ideas but I can tell you that the situation in Israel is very different from what you see/hear/read via the media. I believe that when a person is exposed to certain information regarding Israel they should keep in mind its history as well. The media is full of images that are not showing the whole story so you can use it as unrealistic propaganda. I’m not sure that the way artists show Israel is the right way or the way I see it. I wish it could be more balanced.  


Yaniv Waissa