Miriam’s Well
by Michal Baratz Koren

The history of humanity, especially its politics, is generally grasped by most people as exclusively male-dominated. In most historical eras, in the course of hundreds of years, the prevailing assumption was that women have nothing uniquely to contribute, that their voice is unimportant and that there is no need to listen to them; and so women were excluded from hubs of public influence. Their ability to be heard and to influence contemporary political, social and cultural agenda was marginal, if not virtually impossible.

The Bible is the most ancient and comprehensive historical and cultural document presenting various aspects of human, and especially political life. Being so, it faithfully reflects the status of women from the dawn of history, and realizes how in spite of differing belief systems and ideas within those parameters, in which women were allowed a very narrow scope of influence, they succeeded in becoming a powerful factor, creating a significant position for themselves in the historical narrative.

The purpose of weaving biblical figures into a contemporary setting is to illustrates the dimension of the eternal universality of the subject. I chose to extract the eleven women exposed in the project from their day-to-day context and classical roles and present them as issues with far reaching consequences. I tried to reveal the original figure from limited information, between sporadic lines and superficial descriptions only, and expose them without being influenced by the text an without referring to the mediator –from the standpoint of the male author. In any event, this is not an attempt to present an accurate sketch or a duplicate of the biblical story; the figures in each scene express an image allowing the viewer to cast different dimensions to the story and adapt it to the central narrative.

In the context of this project not to engage directly with the feminist aspect (feminism as a social and political movement), but rather to highlight the gallery of women who represent the power and influence of women in the social and political milieu. In essence, simply presenting the subject contributes to symbolize the capability and strength of women in areas beyond traditional femininity.

Work on the project extended over two and a half years which included research, recruited models and artists from among my family and friends and photography retouches. The shooting sites were chosen after a sweeping search of structures and locations throughout Israel. The costumes and accessories were chosen and designed from the wardrobe of my late grandmother, Miriam Baratz, who was a member of an organization who fought for the establishment the State of Israel. She inspired the entire project, and it is to her that I dedicate it.