Male identity and Israeli identity are the major themes in Adi Nes's work. By engaging with these themes, he entertains a dialogue with the history of art and culture, with the history of photography and its function as a mirror of society, with the history of sexuality with a range of representations of homo-eroticism.
This photograph belongs to a series published in the fashion magazine Vogue Hommes – International. In this series, the designer labels and the styling are the authentic details, around which a narrative is constructed. The environment is neither jail nor a fashion runway, and the figures are neither prisoners nor models. Their outfits were created by internationally renowned fashion designers, and the location is Israel – which is portrayed as a prison in which Israelis, Palestinians, foreign workers, minors, and adults are all held together.
A prison, like a photograph, is a reflection of a society. Imbued with an elegant quality typical of fashion photography and with the ritual silence of photography, Nes's prison photographs expose a series of allegorical confrontations, crises, and conflicts in which violence has been neutralized, having been left outside the frame in the realm of life itself. Rather than freezing the decisive moment, this image commemorates the instant before the crucial moment; extended into a duration that cannot be measured in terms of photographic or literary time, this instant becomes an existential condition.
In this image, which depicts an act of arrest, the emphasis is shifted from the violent act itself to the body language of the protagonists, and their struggle takes on the appearance of a carefully calibrated war dance. The entire composition is focused on the pretty face of a young man with a Middle Eastern appearance. His features and the tone of his skin make it difficult to determine whether he is a Jew or an Arab, and the details of the event make it hard to understand whether the arrest has a political or a criminal background. Amongst the many expressions on his face, it is difficult to notice the transition between feelings of hatred, submission, pride, and humiliation.