The Senate Gallery is a contemporary art space located in the George Shrute Center at the Samuel and Milada Ayrton University Center (Building #71).
The gallery opened in 2000. It features group and solo exhibitions, alongside collaborations with guest curators.
Every year, the gallery also hosts exhibitions curated by BA and MA students in the Department of the Arts’ curatorial program, as well as an exhibition of works by graduates of the BFA program.
Currently at the gallery: Based on a True Story
Curator: Yaron Attar
Available until May 18, 2023
Adan Abu Ajaj , Hen Oskar, Daniella Amitai , Mervat Alhozayel , Yaron Attar, Janna
Bogdanov, Michal Baror , Michaela Golan, Ittai Dor , Dana Darvish, Amira Ziyan ,
Ravit Hai, Rawnak Mahamed , Tamar Shachar & Hadar Mitz , Sara Shehda
The title of this exhibition alludes to the clarification that sometimes appears at the beginning
of a film or television series, constituting an invitation of sorts to the viewer to decipher the
reconstruction of a past event, and even to participate in it. "Based on a True Story” alludes to
the coexistence of truth and fiction, as given expression in a narrative or visual artwork.
The exhibition features works by students in the Department of the Arts at Ben-Gurion
University of the Negev. These works, created as part of the course “Between Documentation
and Fiction in Stills Photography,” are exhibited alongside works photographers currently
active in the Israeli art field. They employ a range of tactics, ranging from staged to
documentary photographs that offer interpretations of public or private events. In some
instances, the works remain anchored in the realm of direct interpretation, while in other
instances the artists venture into fantastic visual worlds.
One of the central sources of inspiration for the exhibition is the work tactic employed by the
Canadian photograph Jeff Wall (b. 1946), who coined the term “near documentary” 1 to refer
to photography based on reality. In the course of his artistic development, Wall would
venture out without his camera in order to pay sustained attention to certain situations, which
appeared to him strange or unpredictable. In this manner, he developed a practice and a
language that became foundational in the development of contemporary photography: a
meticulous reconstruction of the same views that stopped him in a certain place, or the
staging of a situation retained in memory in a studio or on location, with the inclusion of
actors, scenery, lighting and costumes.
Jeff Wall has used this term in lectures and interviews conducted over the years. It has no literary or
The works of the students and artists participating in the exhibition include series of
documentary photographs, in which the nature of the gaze at the subject or object produces an
effect of estrangement or abstraction, as is the case in the photographs by Dana Darvish,
Janna Bogdavnov, Mervat Alhozayel, and Ittai Dor. Also included are series of staged
photographs characterized by different degrees of artistic intervention and/or the
reconstruction of remembered situations, as is the case in the works by Hadar Mitz & Tamar
Shachar, Amira Ziya, Sara Shehda, Ravit Hai, Michaela Golan, and Daniella Amitai.
Additional bodies of work, such as that by Michal BarOr, are based on archival photographs,
while the work of Adan Abu Ajaj is based on archival and personal photographs. The works
by Yaron Attar and Rawnak Mahamed, meanwhile, make use of photographic readymades
from family albums. These practices were all designed to reveal hidden layers of reality. The
importance of “objective truth” becomes irrelevant, as the artworks call for a reexamination
of the term “truth” in relation to the displayed subjects and objects.