An Interview with Pavel Wolberg
By Marion Codner
I’ve being following Pavel Wolberg works for a while,noticing that almost any situation or scenery can become, for him, an interesting platform for his lens, therefore instead of making an ordinary interview I decided to call him and ask him if he would accept to meet at a site, for a photograph shooting session.
I picked a very special site, not only for me, but for the history of Tel Aviv. The pool trampoline, last remain of what used to be the first and biggest Social Country Club in Israel, built in 1965. This monument is about to be demolished to give place to residential towers, which are dramatically changing Israel’s skyline.
My personal impression of Pavel is that he is so gifted and remarkable talented that he doesn’t need much words, he has a vast language in the images he freezes, scenes and moments that find their own way in touching one’s soul, even though the places he decide to express himself and show us, are most of the time, from far away lands and realities.
He immediately accepted and as soon as we met, diligently, we climbed the trampoline stairs in search of the best possible angle, the light was set by a cloudy and wintery afternoon, giving us the perfect set up.
After spending those moments together, a brief conversation came to place, I told Pavel my thoughts about his choice of opening his last exhibit in the periphery at The Negev Art Museum, not a coincidence, he replied that it was indeed a closure given by the fact that he came to live in Beer Sheva from Russia at the age of seven and lived there until was recruited into the IDF. Lately he proposed to the Museum Director, Dr Dalia Manor, to build up a kind of retrospective exhibit linking his Russian and Beer Sheva roots and life experience with his work as a freelance journalist photographer -” It is a statement at presenting the periphery, I create here, most things are happening in the periphery, and this state (Israel) is mostly peripheral. There is a need to leave Tel Aviv, this is important.
I also think it’s important and good deed that I presented an exhibition in Beer Sheva, especially because it is a personal exhibition. I work alone.”
When thinking about an exhibit concept, what comes first, you select from existing photographs or you decide fro some special topic?
I usually deal with issues that interests me, and then
I create a theme for the exhibition to display.
is there any particularly topic that regularly interest you?
I guess that’s what interests everybody … identity, where you come from, where are you going, what’s going on, what is this photo, what’s working, what about the past, what about the future … all these things… I think so…
” I’ve visited recently Pavel Wolberg exhibition, Rodina Mat (meaning Mother Motherland), at the Negev Art Museum, a very impressive collection of photography, black and white panoramic, on a range of themes, taken over recent years: soldiers, settlers, a Tel Aviv club, landscapes and people in the Negev and in Africa. Shot on film, using a wide lens, the panoramas offer spatial, cinematic views that emphasize the horizon and give
a prominent role to the background and context.” -Marion Codner
The exhibition’s central section, is devoted to Wolberg’s personal project, including a series of magnificent landscape photographs, and portraits of friends and relatives, sites in the Former Soviet Union, and views of Be’er-Sheva and the Negev. The photograph which gave its title to the exhibition is Rodina Mat (meaning Mother Motherland). It portrays the burial site and memorial to victims of the Siege of Leningrad in the Second World War. Pavel’s personal childhood memories of the ceremonies held around the monument, his family’s memories from the siege, and the figure of the Mother of the people mourning her fallen sons, encapsulate the adult Wolberg’s search for his identity in his two native lands.
Also displayed here are pairs of photographs taken in different locations, where a formal connection between them, sometimes
a line in the landscape, imbues each one with great power. In many of these works, Pavel’s sensitivity to light and its inherent options for photography find remarkable expression.
There is also, a new and experimental direction for Pavel – an installation which fills a small room whose walls are covered with old Russian wallpaper, with photographs reproduced from family albums on the shelves. Two popular statuettes, reproduced by 3-D printing, round out this ‘reconstruction’ of a childhood in Russia – Be’er-Sheva.
All i can say is, Pavel is an immense and sensitive human being speaking through his camera, his imagery language speaks to us all. A must see exhibition.