CAMERA Fellow at Ohio State University Madelyn Grant reports back on Gil Cohen-Magen’s event this fall called “A Photographer Under Fire.” The event took place on November 7. About 36 students came to the event, and the mix of people in attendance was impressive, said Madelyn. Adults over age 50 and students from a diverse number of academic departments such as Middle East Studies, photography, sociology, political science and others attended the event. Both men and women were well represented, as well as both Jewish and non-Jewish individuals.
Gil Cohen-Magen started off with a short documentary about photography. Cohen-Magen himself was in a scene that was very moving, which served as a great way to start the event. Afterwards, Cohen-Magen told students about himself and his work. He showed students a number of of his pieces. The photographs spanned the spectrum from disturbing photographs depicting violence in the midst of war to close-ups of Israeli politicians. Cohen-Magen shared the unique story of each photograph, and what he had to endure to actually snap the photo. He discussed what it is that motivates him to go to great lengths to capture his photos, and how he works to record the personal stories of the people he photographs.
Madelyn shares that she received positive, moving feedback from many of the participants of the event. Folks told Madelyn that they had never been to an event like this one before, and that Cohen-Magen’s photos and the stories behind them were truly inspiring. Sometimes it was hard to digest the contents of the photos depicting conflict. However, people certainly “were able to grasp the importance of the work that Gil does and how hard it is,” said Madelyn.
Students left the event feeling that both their minds and hearts were touched by Cohen-Magen’s powerful photography. One student told Madelyn, “This event was amazing! Thank you so much for putting this together. It was a privilege to be able to meet Gil!” Madelyn is looking forward to more inspiring event next semester, as she strives to show her peers the human face of Israel and to encourage others to learn about Israel too.