A photographic essay by Joseph Weiler

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You will, in this exhibition, view two genres of photographs:  photographs of people and photographs of places, entitled respectively Moments of Dignity and Places with a Soul. Both are an attempt to capture something fundamental about the human condition.

Moments of Dignity

How to think of human dignity? I take my inspiration from Genesis 1:27

וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

All are created in the image of God, poor and rich, Kings and paupers. And all are equal in that basic dignity which arises from such. Distinctions abound, but we have come to reject any distinction which attributes to the life of one a value or worth which is superior or inferior to an other.

And yet, the other side of the very same coin, and deriving from the same source is the uniqueness of each. We, humans, are not birds in a flock, fish in a school. Each of us is special and different from anyone else alive, anyone else who ever lived. None of us is fungible, substitutable, so that to take the live of one is tantamount to destroying the whole universe.

It is this duality which the photographs with human subjects tries to capture. People from all walks of life, from the four corners of the earth, living the life in different ways. All part of this community of equals, yet each an universe unto its own. And in their eyes and expression their regal dignity – created in the image of God – shines through.

Places with a Soul

These photos are not National Geographic, in which you stare dumbfounded at the beauty of nature, of creation. In which the aesthetics of color and shape and form take your breath away. Places receive their soul through human interaction. In every Place it is that human intervention which gives the place its soul, whether of sadness or joy, greed or hatred the bread-and-butter of the human condition, but always with the salt of life which is human hope, hope in redemption.   

Resist in your contemplation the surface tale, the easy judgment, the satisfying nod of comprehension, of admiration or disgust. Places are as complex as the persons with which they engage. And they all partake of our inherent irreducible God given dignity. These places, even the most mundane, have thus a soul, to be discovered, like beauty, by you, the beholder, imbued with your soul.

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