Field of Vision /
Vardi Kahana - exhibition's essay

Field of Vision is an expression commonly used by ophthalmologists and photographers to describe the extent of the area that can be seen from any given angle.  Our ability to see is not uniform throughout the field of vision and likewise with regard to the perception of color and the ability to distinguish shapes and motion.  In medicine and in photography the field of vision changes according to the quality of the lens that is attached to the eyeball or to the camera.

In the third world, cataracts are the most common cause of blindness.  The opacity of the lens prevents light rays from penetrating the eyeball and obstructs vision.  In photography, by contrast to ophthalmology, the lenses are clear and we may choose the field of vision; whether to focus the lens in a narrow and limited angle or perhaps expand the horizon and sharpen the depth of the field of vision and comprehension.

Against the backdrop of some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, the endless rice fields of North Vietnam, the wide-reaching swamps of the Myanmar Delta, and the verdant grasslands of northern Ethiopia, great numbers of people live in abject poverty plagued by disease and deformity.  Many of the people who arrived at the mobile operating units still had mud sticking to the soles of their feet when they lay down on the operating table.

A blind young woman from a remote village with congenital cataracts in both eyes lived for thirty years in darkness which was cured by a thirty minute operation. Similarly, a brief surgical procedure enabled a teenage girl who suffered from a drooping eyelid that obscured her vision and deformed her pretty face to live a normal life like other teenagers.  Another girl suffered from a huge tumor which caused her eye to protrude in a frightening manner that made her look like the “elephant man”.  She was flown to Israel where the tumor was removed and an artificial eye implanted in a long and complex surgical procedure.  These are just a few examples of the many people treated by the volunteer doctors of “Eye from Zion”.  My camera was there to document it all.

This series of photographs endeavors to remove the blindness from our eyes, we the healthy fortunate who were born in the “right part” of the world; to focus and sharpen the width and the depth of our field of vision.



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