It's already been proven that Israelis can't create superheroes. Several attempts have been made: "Sabra man" from the days of Camp David, a carrot-eating Palmah fighter by the name of "Gidi Gezer" and even the invisible "Danidin," who terrified the Syrians and Egyptian armies.
Artist Laurent Lagarde had no pretence to create a new Israeli superhero. Instead, he decided to import a special photography exhibition that was originally inspired by Israel.
In the exhibit, Lagarde displays photos of superheroes taken against backdrops of famous locations such as the Eiffel Tower and the Statute of Liberty.
Indeed, one can regard this as Lagarde's personal obsession – he flies all over the globe with his toys and documents them in different tourist destinations.
The original idea for the exhibition in Israel was conceived during the Second Lebanon War. Lagarde, who is married to an Israeli woman, lived at the time with his family in Tel Aviv.
After the war broke out he wanted to leave the country, but his wife insisted that they stay. As a therapeutic tool, he then retrieved his superhero figurines and started shooting.
"It was the first war I have ever experienced," he recalled, "My son was six months old, and I was under extreme stress. I thought to myself – what am I doing in Israel? It was a crazy time period.
"My wife warned me that we might need to go into the shelter or die from the missiles reaching Tel Aviv, and I kept thinking – what's going to happen to us and our child," he recalled.
'Country needs new leadership'Lagarde said he was extremely worried about the political situation and the war, and looked for ways to relieve his tension.
"I had a bunch of superheroes toys I collected over the years. I took them out of the box and decided that this country needs new leadership and a new superhero, because the whole world is against you and new heroes need to come and save the day.
"I put a few of the dolls in my bag and walked around Tel Aviv with my camera, looking for spots to photograph them. My hope was that this will give some sort of protection," he added.
Flash in Azrieli Towers (Photo: Laurent Lagarde)
The first superhero to pose was Wonder Woman, who Lagarde photographed on the backdrop of the beach in Tel Aviv.
After his first successful photo shoot, Lagarde decided to launch a project – 'Superheroes fight for Tel Aviv and try to protect it'. He photographed his heroic figurines in different locations around the city, including Azrieli Center and Dizengoff, and later expanded to include global destinations.
Lagarde, 39, was born in France and began his career as a drummer in a rock band. Throughout his many journeys around the world he has lived in several places, including England, Belgium, the United States and Israel. Eventually he returned to Paris where he currently resides.
Good-looking garbageHe met his wife Yael while working together at a medical consulting company in Brussels. In 2004 they both made aliyah.
"The light (in Israel) gives photographers a lot of inspiration; especially those who are accustomed to the European light," Lagarde noted.
"I liked Tel Aviv from the very beginning, but when I worked on the beach I saw how dirty it was, and so I started taking pictures of people throwing garbage. You'll be surprised how good garbage can look in photos," Lagarde remarked.
His first photographic series in Israel documented puddles throughout the city. "I shot the puddle, the people through the reflection of the puddle, and it turned out very nice. My ultimate goal is to show another side of Israel. It is the country I appreciate most, so if I can show a better image of Israel, I am happy. It is a country I love very much and one day I will come back," he said.
In 2007, Lagarde and his family left Israel and moved to Paris. His first photography exhibition in 2006 was titled "The mutants invade Paris," and displayed superheroes in famous locations across the globe.
Later, he launched sequel series titled "The mutants invade Tel Aviv" and "The Mutants invade NYC."
Now, his exhibition is coming to Israel. Under the title "Mutants in the Boulevard," the exhibit will be displayed at Dov Hoz Boulevard in Holon between December 30, 2010 and March 31, 2011.
The official opening will be held at the city's Museum of Caricature and Comics.
"When you see X-Man on the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower, you suddenly get a different perspective of the tower," Lagarde explained.
While shooting his superheroes in Israel, Lagarde received many comments from spectators.
"Usually people react in one of two ways – they either react or pretended not to notice, and mumble something about me being crazy. I usually lay on the ground next to a superhero doll. It probably seems like a crazy person is taking pictures in the middle of the street.
"In New York some people took pictures of me photographing the figurines. Some came and asked me what I was doing, and when I explained they said 'cool' and kept walking."
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