Sacred Land

March 17 – July 8, 2024

sacred land exhibition art

Photographer Ralph Gibson and producer Martin Cohen have conceived of a unique photographic exhibition and publication that capture the essence of Israel as a sacred land, both ancient and contemporary. Eschewing the clichés and conventional, iconic vistas of tourist sites that are well known, they offer a different outlook. The exhibition invites us into the eye of the photographer – we see what he sees, what captures his attention. It is in the details, a particular gesture, a candid pose, a fragment, a moment, that we glimpse a larger truth. The essence of the images are their intimacy, we are drawn close to people, places, things, moments.

Ralph Gibson describes Israel as “the oldest and youngest country of the world,” a place where “ancient luminosity refracts into mythology and biblical wisdom” and the durability of its limestone foundations hardened with exposure to the air, “speak louder and stronger every thousand years or so…becoming as permanent as time itself. Its durability takes one back very far into time, explaining why we are told ‘King David lived here’ or ‘Jesus walked here.’”

Sacred Land exhibition art

The natural beauty of the details of the landscape, nature, and millennia-old archaeological artifacts express a timeless sense of humanity and spirituality. The man-made, industrial, military, urban images convey the impact of human imagination, ingenuity, and necessity. While each individual image captures our attention, it is the juxtaposition of images that creates the special impact of these photographs. Antiquity meets modernity. Etched stone meets graffiti. The rugged natural landscape meets man-made materials. Each juxtaposition sparks the viewer’s imagination in making the connections – visually, emotionally, and psychologically. A quietude amid the cacophony of modern life. The eternal and the instantaneous converge.

Martin Cohen explains, “The diversity of Israel’s population and visitors is often a great surprise. The “Jewish State” is really home to many other faiths and attracts people from around the world to explore their links to the past. Jerusalem exists at the intersection of nearly all modern religions.”

The diversity of human faces and bodies describes the multiplicity of this sacred land – across ethnicities, faiths, and other backgrounds. The images are not posed but are captured in the moment – sometimes dramatic, sometimes reflective, always riveting. They express the universal humanity of each being. One senses that this place is holy to all, across all of the differences that rupture this part of the world. This exhibition projects hope for a peaceful future, where all can come together with understanding bridging those differences.

Ralph Gibson has produced over 40 monographs, and his photographs are included in 170 museum collections around the world and have appeared in hundreds of exhibitions. He has worked exclusively with the Leica for almost 60 years and has received numerous awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship (1986) and Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur.

Martin Cohen is Chairman and Co-Founder of Cohen & Steers, Inc., an investment management firm, and a member of the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. His love of Israel was the inspiration for this project, reinforced by his friendship and shared interests in music, guitar, and photography with Ralph Gibson.

Admission: Free, photo ID required.

Hours: Mondays-Thursday, 9 am – 6:30 pm

Tours/Information: 212-824-2218;