Images are powerful. They encourage us to challenge how we see ourselves and our world. In a time of incredible emotional turmoil, the work and upcoming projects of Canon ambassador Dafna Tal feel more important and relevant than ever, as she visually explores and reveals the inner world of feelings and thoughts and plays with the idea of letting go and embracing our own emotions, even when they are difficult.
“This photo means a lot to me. It was taken recently as part of the preparation for filming my new video-art project, half of which will be filmed underwater and the other while abseiling on a cliff in Mitzpe Ramon in the Israeli desert. For me, it symbolises a whole new beginning: moving to a new place and living in a new community of people who are involved in freediving and water sports – including Maayan, the girl in the photograph. It also represents a new and exciting space to photograph. The underwater world, a vital part of our planet.
The project includes a scene where she desperately hangs on to a cliff – as well as a fall – which evolves in an interesting way into new and positive direction. It explores the idea of letting go and the transformation it brings. The core of this idea came when I was debating whether I was ready to let go of Jerusalem. I had lived there for over ten years and it was where I had created two long-term meaningful projects. On one hand, I felt the need to move on and on the other, I had an attachment to the familiar environment and its memories. I have learned in life that I will always have the choice between comfort and following my inner, guiding voice, that calls me toward risks.
Finally, at the end of August, around the same time as I started working on this project, I left my apartment and re-located to Eilat, the southernmost city in Israel, which sits on the shores of the Red Sea on the Jordanian and Egyptian border. Since moving to Eilat I have developed my underwater photography skills. I love working underwater, it is exciting and challenging! The conditions are much less forgiving, and everything must be done accurately because it is difficult to impossible to correct in post-production. Photographically it is a great pleasure, and I'm excited to embark on a whole new project, with a new environment and new people. Everything looks fascinating and completely different – like flying to another planet.
The element of water is a common allegory for the realm of feelings. If viewed from this perspective, this new series of photos and video may be interpreted/visualized as a journey into/through our emotional side. I personally used to perceive emotions like sadness, hurt, and fear as a weakness which needs to be suppressed; the discovery that it is a vital part of me, giving me inner strength to change and navigate my life experience and even new abilities have transformed my life. I feel this is relevant because it seems to me that in many parts of society we invest a lot in the development of the intellect, but there is often very little emotional learning or even awareness, that leaves us emotionally dependent, while intellectually very advanced. There is no balance or correlation.
The absurdity is that most of us define our aspirations by emotions: we strive to feel happiness and love. But we spend very little time getting to know and work/understand with the world of emotions. Perhaps we can learn to let go of our thoughts, our need for control and the intellectual understanding of everything, so that we can learn from our emotional experiences and their messages.
Working in a visual language enables me to convey my ideas and experiences in a way that is more experiential, less direct, and allows for multiple meanings. The mediums of Photography and video takes me out into the world and introduces me to people, creating interaction which are a vital part of my creative process, bringing new and surprising results. It is very enriching!”