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Dafy Hagai’s new zine “Spring” is an intimate and alternative glimpse at the Tel Aviv drag/ gender fluid scene through the eyes of Dafy herself. Although currently based in London, Dafy gravitated to her native land in order to explore the local scenes and how they have evolved. This is a personal point of inspiration for Dafy, who declares “I’m very inspired by drag and I was very drawn to these performers’ artistry and personas.”
 
The zine is an amalgamation of people and aesthetics, but additionally conjures a distinct mood—something that Dafy’s photography continuously accomplishes with great ease. In response to why the title “Spring”, Dafy reveals “because of the season when it’s being published and the imagery, but also the association with something that’s rejuvenating.

 

Can you tell us a bit more about the drag scene in Tel Aviv?

From what I’ve seen, it’s quite vibrant, and bring together all kinds of different artists and performers from the local nightlife, theatre, art and fashion scenes.

In an extremely volatile political landscape such as Israel, is this culture celebrated beyond Tel Aviv, or is the city somewhat of a ‘bubble’ within the nation?

I think Tel Aviv is considered a more liberal bubble compared to other parts of the country, for sure. It’s also where probably where most things happen, but there are drag scenes in other cities like Jerusalem, and Be’er Sheva, and I’m sure in other places that I’m not aware of.

What do you feel is unique about the drag and gender fluid scene in Tel Aviv that distinguishes it from similar scenes in other parts of the world, such as London?

It’s probably a mix of different things, like the political climate of the country, being influenced by both western and local culture and pop culture, also the aesthetic references of the place.

Whilst shooting, were you able to get to know these people on a more personal level, such as learning more about their individual backgrounds? If so, did you aim to reflect this in your photography?

I visited their houses and spent time talking with them and getting ready for the shoot. I learned about their background and their styles, which is something I definitely wanted to mix with my photography and reflect in the image. It was a collaboration of my ideas and their drag and personality, so with each person we did something a little different. Their backstories also inspired the selection of the rest of images and the vibe of the whole zine.

Aptly entitled “Spring”, the photographs throughout the zine vividly reflect the spirit of the season. You describe an association with something that’s ‘rejuvenating’; could you elaborate upon this?

I think it’s about something that makes place and gives hope for something new or for new growth. Which I thought, complements well ideas regarding gender fluidity.

The name “Spring” came from a bunch of different reasons. One of them also being, that some of the images were taken in this beautiful location that has these water springs, and brings together all kinds of different people who come to enjoy them.

Your collection of work is distinctly rooted in your native country of Israel. Whilst living in London, how do you stay connected to this main source of your creative inspiration?

I grew up in Tel Aviv, so all my childhood memories and cultural references are from there. I also visit there quite often, so I stay connected with the local scenes.

Speaking of London, how does your creative inspiration differ here?

I think being in London and meeting so many talented and interesting people from all over the world is what helps me shape the direction of my work.

Both professionally and personally, what were the most valuable things that you were able to take away from working on this zine?

I made some amazing new friends and collaborators, and was able to explore new ideas and themes in my work I have been wanting to, for a while.

Furthermore, what do you hope that your fans will take away from this zine?

I hope people who follow my work will take some ideas, and open up to diverse perceptions regarding gender and gender fluidity.

Your previous book “Israeli Girls”, as well as your zines “Golden Showers”, “Sunset”, and now “Spring” are major contributors to your exquisite, meaningful and overwhelmingly impressive body of work; where do you hope to go from here?

Books have always been super important to me, in creating my personal work, but I also hope to start working on creating a short film soon.

 ‘Spring’ is available for pre-order here