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EVENTS

26.08.2020

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Today, August 26, we congratulate the Leica photographer, Micha Bar-Am, on the occasion of his 90th birthday. He has long been considered one of the most important chroniclers of the State of Israel. His multifaceted body of work has captured all the highs and lows of his country’s history, since its inception up until the present day. Upon discovering photography as a young man, the camera became and remained his vehicle for understanding the world. “The click of the shutter becomes a kind of heartbeat. I keep my sanity by continuously giving the world order and meaning through my camera,” he once acknowledged.

Micha Bar-Am was born Michael Anguli, in Berlin in 1930. In 1936 his family emigrated to Palestine. He grew up in Haifa and on a kibbutz, and as a young man was active in the anti-British underground. His codename was Bar-Am, which he later chose to use his formal name.
In an interview with the photographer Tina Ruisinger in September 1998, he described his path to photography as follows: “As far back as I can remember, I was a visual person. I carried out my first experiments with my mother’s very bulky camera, a ‘big harmonica’, which was extremely complicated to handle. It was only in my early twenties that I became the proud owner of my first proper camera, a Leica.” In a recent interview with LFI  he remembers, “My road to visual adventures was open.” Using his Leica to follow the developments of Israel since its inception, he photographed daily life on the kibbutz, the conflict between Israel and Palestine, the hopes and fears of new immigrants, and the Eichmann trial in 1961. He was also engaged as a photographer for all the Middle East conflicts. He became a correspondent member of Magnum in 1968, and to this day, in the agency’s only photographer from Israel.

“For me, photography is really the most exciting way to live. I’ve been lucky, because I’m not only concerned about visual culture, but photography gave me the chance to get involved and to study the dramatic sides of life,” Bar-Am explains. His archive includes hundreds of thousands of pictures. A comprehensive portfolio of his work will be appearing in the next issue of LFI (7/2020).
Happy returns of the day, dear Micha Bar-Am!
(Ulrich Rüter)
Self Portrait with smuggled camera, Mount Scopus enclave, 1958, © Micha Bar-Am / Magnum Photos
Tina Ruisinger, Portrait Micha Bar-Am, New York 1998; © and courtesy Tina Ruisinger. Faces of Photography: Face to Face with 50 Master Photographers of the 20th Century, Edition Stemmle 2002
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