Tomer is a young man who more than anything wanted to become a woman. But his dream couldn't come true – not because of the usual reasons, but because he has cancer. The treatments made his dream almost impossible.
Tomer's story is one of many presented in "Swan Lake," a new photography exhibition that focuses on courage and freedom in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
- Israeli artists raise NIS 1.5M to help fight AIDS
The exhibit curators, Aviad and Rachel Herman, were inspired to launch the exhibition through their friendship with Tomer. They realized that plenty of people needed some inspiration to pursue their own dreams.
Tomer/Tomerika. His dream is a reality, at least in pictures. (Photo: Rachel Herman)
How to go about it? The Herman siblings spread the word on Facebook, urging photographers from all over the world to send in pictures of people who lived life to the fullest, despite mental or physical disabilities. The response was rapid, and the exhibition quickly took shape.
Everyone involved in the project, including the photographers, volunteered their time and effort.
"When my brother first told me about the idea, I saw its potential to touch people, change their lives," said Rachel Herman. "I was really excited, and I devoted myself to making it a reality." Rachel took the pictures of the Hermans' friend Tomer that appear in the exhibit.
"Tomer and I connected immediately. When we talked about what to photograph, and what he dreamt of being, he got excited at the thought that his dream could come true in pictures. On the day of the shoot, 'Tomerika' was revealed, stronger than ever."
Another photo by Lior Eldad portrays a group from Amihai – an association of people with various disabilities who work together to achieve their dreams. Nimrod Kapeluto chose to focus on Eitan Oved, who lost his leg in a car accident at age 20 but who kayaks across the Sea of Galilee every Friday.
Other photographs included a mentally challenged girl who began indoor climbing; a group of breast cancer patients; and an AIDS patient from Sweden.
"We decided to create a photography exhibition… that would inspire courage, freedom, personal expression, and a love for life. Everyone is welcome to come visit," said Rachel and Aviad Herman.
- "Swan Lake" will be open on the gallery floor of the Azrieli shopping mall in Tel Aviv until May 29.
'From Outside In'
This exhibit displays the work of Daniel Reynold and Floyd Chance, two mentally challenged artists who have joined forces as part of a year-and-a-half long project.
Reynold was born in 1967. For 15 years, he lived and worked in Kfar Idud, Netanya. He also works as a gardener, which is the source of much of his inspiration.
One of Daniel Reynold's paintings on display in Tel Aviv
Chance, born in 1962, lives and works in London. For over a decade, he has used a wide range of media in his art but chooses to focus on sculpture.
Avigail Hirsch, curator of the exhibit, explains that the purpose of the project was to promote "affirmative action" and counter prejudice, as well as encourage interpersonal awareness and understanding.
- The exhibit will be open from May 17 through June 10, 2012, at the Artists' House (Elharizi 9, Tel Aviv)
Opening hours - Monday-Thursday, 10am to 1pm and 5pm- to 7pm
Friday: 10am to 1pm
Saturday: 11am to 2pm