Valentine Vermeil is a French photographer. She chose documentary photography as her means of expression, where identities are laid bare, where encounters prevail allowing her to discover reality. Her photographic approach is close to poetic documentary, she is inspired by the factual data of a place, situation or personality and attempts to transcend this in order to show a glorified reality. Her subject of choice is mankind’s identity as a social being bound to its homeland.
The first time I went to Israel I took all the stereotypes that stand out in the 19th Century Orientalist reproductions of the « Holy Land » with me. I had built a mental picture that fitted the symbol of the name ; “Palestine”, mentioned on old maps, made me long to meet people and to confront reality.
While traveling across Israel and the occupied territories, I saw many opposing dialectics and cultures. A Muslim culture in which each event is reinforced by the grace of God, and a Jewish culture that links the tragic history of its people with a need to defend itself and to have absolute supremacy. In spite of international disagreement, the settlements expand and economic discrimination continues. Xenophobia, violence and imprisonment are daily occurrences.
“Everyday People” is about the country as a whole, in all its complexity. A country that has been described, since time immemorial, as the land of milk and honey; a country that, since 1948, has never stopped confining itself in dominant beliefs about its neighbouring countries and their people. I like to consider that this land was once a gigantic Tower of Babel, before God decided to mix up languages and divide Men by fear if they defied him. These photographs deliberately differ from media coverage and the fantasies this specific region stirs up. The purpose of my work is to highlight what brings people together, such as relationships and belonging to a group, whether it is social, ethnic or religious, specifically through the eyes of women in these communities: womb-women baring hope, generosity and life.