Industry meets art

If Arye Dahan has his way, an industrial park in northern Israel may soon become a booming tourist attraction.

Dahan, who directs the Tel Hai Industrial Park, envisions the complex as a major draw for visitors in a region that offers little in the way of entertainment.

The park, whose factories produce everything from disposable diapers to auto parts, now sports a Museum of Photography and the recently opened Museum of Automobiles.

Dahan hopes the exhibits will draw the attention of business executives who might be inspired to locate their industries in the park.

However, that vision is down the road, and various obstacles stand in the way. One problem is the park's location. Situated off the road between Kiryat Shmona and Metulla, the complex occupies an area far from the center of the country. The park may also have trouble attracting tourists to a region hit by occasional Katyusha attacks.

Another stumbling block is that industries wanting to locate in the park must meet a series of requirements: For one thing, they must be environmentally friendly.

One way Dahan plans to increase interest is to bring school groups to visit. If the children enjoy seeing the exhibits at the museums, businesses will look more favorably upon the site.

Paradoxically, one of the museum's current photographic exhibitions portrays industry in anything but a positive light. Basque photographer Gorka Salmeron Murgiondo seems to revel in the most appalling aspects of factory life. His black-and-white photos seem to radiate with the heat of the machines and the stench of putrid pools of industrial waste.

Still, his work can be seen as a study in light, shadow and composition. And they have a beauty all their own, transcending the ugliness of the subject matter.

In contrast, the clean factories and production systems photographed by Hanan Getreide, Shmuel Shmueli, Rafi Venezian and Uri Bazravi seem cold and lifeless.

It is surely no accident that curators placed these works alongside the almost abstract aerial landscape photographs of Duby Tal, a pilot and photographer who executed this series with his partner Moni Haramait, who on this occasion did the piloting.

With some of the photographs, only later can one can discern the actual objects, the fields or trees, being photographed.