Eighteen – Natan Dvir

Although I grew up and spent most of my photographic career in Israel, I felt I did not truly know or understand its Arab society – over a fifth of the population consisting of hundreds of thousands of families who stayed within Israel’s borders after it was established in 1948. This large minority, which is currently experiencing a challenging identity crisis, has been somewhat forgotten amidst the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
I aim to confront and dispute widespread misconceptions and stereotypes of the people within my own country – people I was brought up to meet with suspicion. For this series of photographs, I decided to focus on Arab men and women at the age of eighteen, a crucial turning point in their lives, when they complete school, become legal adults, and earn the right to vote. Yet unlike their Jewish peers, most do not join the military.
I chose to photograph my subjects in their everyday surroundings to maintain a sense of place, focusing on the complex dynamics – unwelcoming facial expressions and body language testifying to the initially tense nature of our engagement. The portraits are combined with personal testimonies and candid images, revealing not only a glimpse into their lives, but also into the transformation of my interactions with my subjects.
By taking an interest in my so-called “enemy”, I hope to highlight the impact that cultural and internal conflicts have had on these young people, personally and collectively. Eighteen is an invitation to get closer. The project is aimed at reconciliation through understanding and respect. If I, a Jewish Israeli man, have been accepted and was allowed into my subjects’ personal lives – so can others.

– Natan Dvir


Natan Dvir (b. 1972, Israel) received his MBA from Tel Aviv University and his MFA from the School of Visual Arts, NY. His work has been published in leading international magazines including the New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, the London Times, Le Monde, and Stern. Natan is represented by Polaris Images and shares his time between Israel and New York. His images were exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in the US, Europe, South America and Israel. His work was recently awarded the PDN Photo Annual, American Photography, and the New York Photography Festival awards for his series "Eighteen".