March 18 – May 22, 2016
FORUM 039: Jonas Opperskalski – Goodbye Mr. President

Tel Aviv-based photographer Jonas Opperskalski has been exploring the younger generation’s quest for identity in Israel, Palestine and the countries of the Mediterranean since 2011. The lack of political vision in the region has led the younger generation, in particular, to live in a kind of vacuum where the main challenges they face are a search for belonging, a clash between religious and secular influences, and economic uncertainty.

In this gallery exhibition, Opperskalski’s photographic works are divided into three sections. “The 12 Million”, a visual investigation of diversity in Israeli and Palestinian society, “Goodbye Mr. President”, a collection of ordinary and less ordinary scenes from the Middle East and “sorry, welcome” which documents the ongoing quest for asylum of a Roma family from Macedonia.

In his photo essay “The 12 Million”, Opperskalski explores issues of identity. Does the fact that a person was born into a particular family determine their identity as a human being or even their lifelong membership of a particular religious or ethnic group?

Young Israelis celebrate Purim in Tel Aviv, a Jewish holiday which commemorates a story recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther, in which Jewish people in ancient Persia were facing a plot on their distinction. 2013. © Jonas Opperskalski
A drunken Orthodox Jewish man is seen in an overcrowded bus carrying Israelis to Jerusalem, during the Jewish holiday of Purim. 2013 © Jonas Opperskalski
A horse is standing in front of destroyed homes in an area of the Palestinian city Hebron which is closed for Palestinian vehicles and controlled by Israeli military. Hebron, Palestinian territories, February 14, 2014. © Jonas Opperskalski
A father lifts his son as hundreds of thousands of Ultra Orthodox Jews demonstrate in Jerusalem against any plans to make them undergo military service. 2014. © Jonas Opperskalski

Opperskalski’s richly atmospheric images offer a visual investigation of diverse groups living in the Middle East and is intended to combat stereotypes and highlight aspects of personal identities.

In “sorry, welcome”, Opperskalski follows a Roma family over the course of several years. The film “A Journey into the Unknown” tells the story of the family’s return to Macedonia. The family, whose asylum application was rejected by the southern German city of Kaufbeuren, where they had lived in permanent fear of expulsion for eight months, decided voluntarily to return to Macedonia. Opperskalski documented their 20-hour bus journey and remained with them for a further ten days. During this time, the photographer came face to face with the Roma family’s one constant companion – discrimination. The six family members, back in their home country, are trapped in lives of desperate poverty in extremely cramped quarters.


Born in Kaufbeuren in 1988. Diploma in Photojournalism from the Danish School of Media and Journalism (Aarhus) and Bachelor’s Degree in Design from the Munich University of Applied Sciences. Started work as an assistant cameraman for German broadcaster ARD at its Tel Aviv studio in 2010.

In 2012, became a founding member of “Panaut”, a collective of visual authors responsible for projects, exhibitions and workshops around the world. His work has been published in a number of magazines and newspapers such as DER SPIEGEL, Neon, Nido, Die Zeit, NZZ, Das Magazin, der Freitag, Revue, Colors, TAZ and zenith.
His archive has been represented by laif, the German photo agency, since 2013.

Jonas Opperskalski lives as a photographer and filmmaker in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Israel.