Alex Levac (b. 1944), one of Israel's most acclaimed photographers, has documented Israeli society for some four decades, focusing on its defining conflicts and challenges through direct photography. In the 1980s and 1990s, his photographs were published regularly in the dailies Hadashot and Haaretz as part of a critical press, which exposes ills in the political, social, and bureaucratic systems, and contributed greatly to the acceptance of photography as a full-fledged journalistic medium in the country. Over the years, his works were featured in numerous exhibitions, and five books dedicated to his photographs have been published.
Levac, recipient of the 2005 Israel Prize for Photography, contributed significantly to the formulation of Israel's social iconography. In conferring the award on Levac, the jury noted that "There is no other photographer like Alex Levac, so well-versed in the Israeli experience. He is endowed with commitment and discipline, with an original, penetrating, at times ironic view of Israeli reality, including its outlying enclaves. His photographic practice is underlain by empathy and freedom of thought, as well as poetic observation of fleeting moments occurring on the Israeli street."
The medium of photography in general, and photojournalism and street photography in particular, transpire between the private and public spaces, eliciting ethical questions by their very essence. Levac continues the tradition of the "decisive moment" formulated by French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson—a photograph that captures a fraction of a second, and reflects the photographer's unique observation, technical skill, and aesthetic perception. The decisive moment is manifested in the work of concerned photographers a-la Hungarian-American photographer, Cornell Capa—photographers who seek to make social and cognitive change, and not only record; to expose social ills and improve the human condition. This approach combines photography created with a documentary intention with one based on artistic intention, expressing a critical social stance. In 1988, during the first Intifada (Palestinian uprising), Levac published a photograph of dead Palestinians lying on a truck, in the daily Hadashot; in 2005, he published a series of photographs documenting poverty in Israel in Haaretz. His photographs span both the intellectual context and the punctum, theorized by Roland Barthes—that element in the photograph which pricks and bruises the viewer, calling for closer observation.
 See Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, trans: Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1980), p. 27.
Over the years, Levac has often been the focus of legal discussions and polemics pertaining to the conflict between freedom of creation and violation of privacy or erosion of the establishment. In 1984, for example, in the daily Hadashot, he published one of the most iconic press photographs in Israel's history—the Bus 300 Affair photograph—which perpetuated one of the bus hijackers still alive, having been captured and handcuffed, refuting the official Israel Security Service's version, whereby the hijackers had all been killed when the IDF stormed the bus. Levac's photograph led to exposure of the Service's false conduct and its attempt to place the blame for the scandal on the army. A commission of enquiry set up after the photograph's publication, eventually resulted in the resignation of the Service chief and other senior officials in the organization. In another instance, in 2000, Levac was sued by an ultra-Orthodox man, whom he depicted in the public space against the backdrop of a provocative poster. In 2016 he was sued again following the publication of a photograph portraying ultra-Orthodox men and their children in close proximity to dumpsters. It was claimed that the photograph constituted a violation of the subjects' privacy and humiliated them.
Levac's language focuses mainly on figures whom he "captures" at random, while observing what is happening before him. In the Arava region photographs of recent years (2017–19), on the other hand, Levac abandons the anthropological hunter strategy, and turns to a space devoid of human presence, yet one which attests to the traces of human presence in the desert expanses. His photographs present an apocalyptic wilderness, left abandoned and ruined: a rusty shipping container, a broken wall, a deserted firing range, and a battleship forgotten in the heart of the desert sea. The urban characters are replaced by the vestiges of buildings and nature, a dying ghostly space that points to the existence of another reality, striving to tell a story. Through Levac's critical lens, the state of the place becomes a poignant political statement.
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