Born in Berlin, Micha Bar-Am immigrated with his parents to Israel (then Palestine) in the ’30s and, after participating in the 1948 war of independence, became a co-founder of a kibbutz in the Galilee, where he started experimenting with photography as a means of documenting communal life. Bar-Am covered the 1956 Sinai War and was later taken on as a staffer for the Israeli Army magazine Bamachane. This image, made after he left the publication, was shot at the end of basic training at the women’s army Training Base no.12 at Tzrifin, the central base of the Israeli Women’s Corps. “I happened upon this lovely and colourful fashion show happening in front of the bulk of monotonous Khaki-clad young soldiers,” remembers Bar-Am, “The contrast was smashing, and the real show was followed by a mock fashion show by the soldiers themselves, in which the parade ground doubled as catwalk.” Like so much of Bar-Am’s documentation of Israel and the conflicts that have seized the region, this image reflects an eye for contrasts and contradictions – a combination of the personal and the political, the brutal and the beautiful.

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