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Presencehood -

artist statement


Shai Zakai, an artistic photographer, pioneer ecological-artist in Israel, lecturer, curator and writer, holistic therapist, returns to an intimate workwith her camera,  in nature, creating movements and a process of body-mind-nature's energetic conversations. Zakai has developed the 'slow photography' technique, through which she protect ancient open spaces, in this new and enchanting project called -Presencehood.


 “What happens when you pay attention to anything, especially routine behavior, is that it changes. Attention alters what is attended.” (Kaprow 1990)

For over twenty years I have been observing, communicating, creating and contemplating with and among plants, trees, roots and rocks. Communication with the pulse of natural entities that surrounds us can be achieved by just being close to them.  I think about the power of "Presensehood" where we can awaken our deepest intuition and see beyond. 

By awakening our ancient intuition, in our body, and listening to it, we are able to regain our connection with and understanding of nature.  Intuition is not imagination; it is a material, an energy like love, pain or money.  It exists, like a phenomenon of a mountain.

If we join our intuitive forces, we can create a critical mass, which will influence the polluters of our natural heritage, creating a change of the human perception about the world around us, a world which is a part of us. 

Photographing nature frequencies in open spaces can be achieved only by moving the photographers' mind & body simultaneously, and by a focused intention. 

Presencehood series is about being present with full intention in landscapes, and even more tuned at threatened sites. The dialog between a fully being and observing in nature, create a third state if performed regularly - Presencehood.

There are certain situations where one can activate the Presencehood state of mind. Activating Presencehood is a physical-social-spiritual process of shaking the energy of a place, to wake her up to protect herselves. A waken-er action. 

It is also an observation on culture-nature dialog, where intimate relationships are being created with the inner worlds of landscapes. It is a situation where we do not need the list of forms& shapes to feel a place, or any other information.  

Most of the photographs in the series, were photographed & danced in almost complete darkness, as a "wrong" underexposed photograph. Randomly, it happened when day kissed night, or what Leonardo Da Vinci described as the perfect light for observation, Sfumato.

Environmental activism- Daylighting the inner landscape;

The result of Presencehood work, could take two turns;

- Recognizing the destructive force of humans and the understanding of the unsolvable situation, and create those photographs as an act of farewell from the loved ones, from the relative unspoiled Nature. Or -

- Act  as a limitless optimist who takes every click of her camera, as an action to correct the world and all of its parts, to influence environmental policy, through the visual language, activating a protection energy for a place by the place itself.

It is no different from any activism I did in the past; exhibitions, demonstrations, environmental campaigns, writings and conferences to save the planet.  Surprisingly, I see faster results through activating Presencehood, examples are documented and researched. 

Slow Photography

In 2009, Zakai has named this working process as - Slow Photography, verses fast digital photography. Like slow food verses fast food, slow/snail mail, verses e mails. 

The slow exposure, slow movement of the body while shooting, and the interconnectedness of place-mind-body-camera, correspond & capture the sense of the places in focus ( Genius Loci ).

Daylighting inner worlds of landscapes' energy can only happen through the authentic act itself, nothing can occur in Photoshop or with after effects. 

See also a trailer of a new video-art from Presencehood series.