Reaction: An Inter-Religious Experiment

PhotographerDafna Tal
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

The project “Reaction” is an experiment which examines the way people in Jerusalem react to the sounds of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish prayers. The project includes photographs and videos of participants of various religious backgrounds. They are presented side by side, with no additional identifying information regarding to the people filmed.


Jerusalem is a holy city for Christians, Muslims, and Jews. It is woven with a rich, complex fabric of reality, impossible to ignore, where all live side by side. This reality evokes a wide range of feelings and attitudes. The project “Reaction” is an experiment that examines how people react to the sounds of prayers from each of these three religions. It was conducted in the heart of Jerusalem. From a studio situated near Jerusalem’s Jaffa gate, I asked residents and visitors of diverse backgrounds to participate. Each participant sat alone and was filmed while listening to sounds of traditional Christian, Muslim, and Jewish prayers without knowing what they were about to hear. The result is a series of photographs, video portraits, as well as explanatory texts about the meanings of the prayers. Each video portrait is displayed on a vertically hung TV. All the videos have the same soundtrack, and viewers observe different participants reacting to the same sounds. Viewers receive no identifying information regarding the names, background or religions of the people filmed. They know only that the participants are either Jews, Christians, Muslims, or people of mixed faith who were filmed in Jerusalem. In a preliminary test, neither locals nor foreigners could determine which person belonged to which religion (unless this was obvious from the person's dress).