New Ideals: the Image of the New Woman in Photography

Haifa Arts Foundation supported the exhibition New Ideals: the Image of the New Woman in photography, an exhibition of historical and contemporary photograps of women in Germany and in Israel. The exhibition was celebrated the 50th anniversary of Israel-Germany relations.

Curated by Anna Georgiev and Zohar Efron, the unique photography exhibition at the Haifa City Museum, which opened in March 2014, won the blessing and support of Haifa Arts Foundation. An extensive catalog in three languages – Hebrew, Arabic and English, accompanied the exhibition. The exhibition examined the image of the "New Woman" by presenting photographs from Germany and Israel taken during the 1950s-1930s.

During those decades, the woman's position changed greatly, both in Germany and in Israel, says HCM curator Inbar Dror-Lax. During that period, the New Woman image evolved in Germany: women presented their world and wishes in modern city life, while in Israel there evolved the image of the New Jewish Woman, which matched the Zionist ideology and showed the women as manual workers who help build the country. In fact, a local version of the New Woman was created here. The photographs in the exhibition mirror the societies in which they lived, first in Germany and later in Israel, and provide insights on the wider social and cultural phenomenon of the period.

The goal was to emphasize the place of women in the period's history. Following Hitler's rise to power, many Jews immigrated to Israel as part of the fifth wave of immigration, called The German Aliya, adds the curator. Due to the accelerated development of the Hebrew Haifa, many of them set up residence in the city and influenced the cultural and educational life. In a way, Haifa was the center of German immigrants' public-political non-conformity, which led to an industrial and cultural boom. That boom had great influence on photography in Israel and particularly in Haifa. At the time, photography served women photographers who arrived from Germany not only as a means of livelihood and economic independence, but also as an important tool for self-expression. Most female photographers from that Aliya studied and worked in the main photography and art institutions in Germany, and were opposed to the social conventions of the time, as reflected in their works – as photographers or subjects of photographs - and in their independent lifestyle in the country's major cities, including Haifa. 

מוזיאון העיר חיפה רודי ויסנשטין, הצלמניה

Front cover: Liselotte Grschebina, Hilde Billigheimer, 1934, (detail). Silver printing 19.5X24.5 cm. Israel Museum collection, gift of Benny Greschebina, Liselotte's son and wife Rina, Petah Tikva, with the assistance of Rachel and Dov Gottesman, Tel Aviv and London

 

Back cover: Rudy Weissenstein, Tzalmania, Violin Youth, Hadera, 1939 (Detail). Black and white photograph 18X20 cm, courtesy of Tzalmania, Tel Aviv