Orit Ben-Shitrit

Family, Religion and State

Family, Religion and State (FRS) are three social structures that fill an overlapping abstract space. A state can contain both families and multiple religions. While a religion incorporates families and states and a family can participate in or reject religion, this very choice can stand in harmony with or opposition to the state in which the family lives. More often than not, conflict arises between the points of this polygon. Visually, this tension can be reflected in the image of the Penrose Triangle, also known as the Impossible Triangle or a tribar. Much like the impossibility for co-existence among FRS, the Penrose Triangle cannot exist in 3-dimensional space.

Religious beliefs and orthodoxy, which have systematically been reconditioned as a unifying force, are time and again at the root of our failing. Ideologies and policies often tragically hurt people of opposing religious beliefs.

Reductionism, rationality and Modernism's quest for progress are significant consequences of Enlightenment thought that have left people still searching for an object toward which to direct their beliefs. Paradoxically, even the decision to reject ideologies is an ideology in itself. Faced with these choices, how can one believe in anything?

Medieval Vasisthasana by Orit Ben-Shitri
Orit Ben-Shitrit,
Medieval Vasisthasana,
2008 archival pigment print
on Luster 40”x32”

In the image Medieval Vasisthasana, the Middle Age notion of humanity’s innate depravity entwines with Enlightenment ideas of reason, forming a spatially convoluted composition. The puppet-like medieval figure, referencing Hans Holbein's Danse Macabre, reflects the religious edict, Submit, or else meet your fate. In this way, fear is used to elicit faith while the rational mind attempts to decipher the structure of the space.

Don't doubt the doubt by Orit Ben-Shitrit
Orit Ben-Shitrit,
untitled (don’t doubt the doubt),
2008 archival pigment print
on Luster 40”x27”

Don't doubt the doubt captures the moment when devoted faith slips out the back door and the edifice of reality crumbles. A selfreferential loop1 remains where, paradoxically, the only thing the lost individual can believe in is his/her doubt.

Intoxicating sovereignty by Orit Ben-Shitri
Orit Ben-Shitrit,
intoxicating sovereignity (fall afternoon),
2008 archival pigment print
on Luster 40”x27”

The fractured photo, Intoxicating sovereignty (Jerusalem fall afternoon) depicts Jerusalem in the time of the Second Temple (66 CE), when revolt against the occupying Romans led to the city’s eventual destruction four years later. One of the oldest cities in the world, Jerusalem has always been infused with fracture and duplicity, which carry on to this day in the city's fabric and leaders. As reverent home to three of the world's major religions, Jerusalem embodies Foucault's idea of a heterotopia — an impossible space where parallel contradictory layers exist.2 The Janus figure in the top left corner of the image is the Roman god of beginnings and endings, a protector able to see both past and future. Ironically, the protectors of the city were to be its destroyers. The struggle for domination over Jerusalem continues as competing narratives strive to wipe out the remnants of past occupations.

Orit Ben-Shitrit was born and raised in Jerusalem. Currently an MFA student at Hunter College, Orit works primarily in digital media including photography, animation and video. Her work has been exhibited in the United States, Italy, Germany, Greece, Slovenia, Spain and Russia.


Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (New York: Basic Books, 1999) 695.
Ariella Azoulay, Death's Showcase: The Power of Image in Contemporary Democracy (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003) 181.