Dana Stirling – DEAD WATER

A photographer’s pilgrimage to Kibuts Kalia Atraktzia, a fondly remembered water park near the Dead Sea in Israel which has now fallen into disrepair.

Dana Stirling is a still life and fine art photographer, and the Co-Founder & Editor In-Chief of Float Photo Magazine. She was born in Jerusalem, Israel, and based in Queens, NY ; Received her MFA from The School Of Visual Arts in Photography, Video, and Related Media in 2016 and her BA from Hadassah College Jerusalem in Photographic Communications in 2013. Stirling’s work has been exhibited internationally including Fresh Paint Art Fair in Tel Aviv, UNICEF Next Generation Photo Benefit at Aperture Foundation NY, “A Process – Der Greif” in Neue Galerie, Höhmannhaus Germany, Google photography Prize at Saatchi Gallery London UK, Brick Lane Gallery, London UK and Tel Hai Museum of Photography Israel. Some press includes the Lensculture website, FeatureShoot website, Haaretz Photography Blog, Musee’ Magazine, Blow Photo website and others. In addition to publication such as Aint Bad bad ‘from here on’ book, All the best Alice 2015, A process exhibition book and Israel Hayom Newspaper. She has been awarded the Google Photography Prize Finalist (2012), Gross Foundation grant for excellency in photography (2013) and the Weizmann institute scholarship for outstanding student achievement (2011).

The Dead Sea is a salt lake with no way out. Surrounding this unique lake grew an industry of pleasure, beauty, healing and myth. People come from all over the world to experience the wonder of the Dead Sea. Kibuts Kalia is one of many small cooperative settlements, hotels and resorts, along the sea that have tried to form a haven from the desert’s abyss. Kalia was well known for their water amusement park, the Atraktzia (attraction – word that was borrowed from English), as an oasis of sweet water in the sea of death.

Many Israeli’s share memories of Atraktzia as part of their tradition of family vacations and weekends. I have never had the chance of experiencing Kalia’s Atraktzia myself, and yet I grew up knowing of a miraculous fantastic oasis in the middle of nowhere. Years after, In one of my trips down south I had my first encounter with Atraktzia. It was hot, dry and colorless, a pale refection of its past glory. The once amazing water park stood empty, abandon and waterless. After doing some research it came to my knowledge that in the year 2000 the water park was shutdown due to the politic tension in the area as well as financial and legal problems. Since then, for 17 years, it stands empty.

The stories of others, on which I based my memories, of the place I have never visited, were far from the place I could have now see for myself. And yet, I still feel nostalgic in regards to the fall of the attractions from its glory; not owning even one true memory of Atraktzia haven’t prevented me from yearning its past. As I photographed the park it became smaller, paler and lifeless. In this body of work I do not try to recreate the park, or resurrect it, but document a place that so many people had strong feeling to, as children, and try and understand that glorious period that me myself had never got to experience.

To view more of Dana's work, please visit her website. 

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