This is a book I picked up last week that looks at Israel’s Architecture of Occupation – a primarily spatial investigation of the transformation of the occupied territories of Palestine via geographical, urban, territorial and architectural conceptions. I mention it here because I think the theme has a lot in common with the artists’ work currently on display in This land is Your Land at the CCA. In descriptions of settlement processes undertaken by pioneering Zionist zealots, among other players, throughout the territory Eyal Weizman paints a picture of a chaotic and hostile borderland that echoes Ursula Biemann’s Sahara Chronicle in its depiction of the impossible complexities that accompany the very concept of national border creation and the ruthless process of partition that it entails. In Biemann’s work abstract mapping technologies of a highly military nature are contrasted with, both, the realities of barren and inhospitable landscape – shifting continuously out of reach of the technologies and people charged with policing it – and human stories of survival that have taken them necessarily beyond questions of national identity. Next door Mark Boulos’ work is also one of aggressive contrast that challenges the comfortable neutrality of the viewer by placing them between accusations of a materially dispossessed Nigerian tribe fighting against the theft of petroleum resources and the abstracted numerical world of the American financial trade floor that reaps the benefits of this extraction. Bouchra Khalli’s work is also a deceptively straight forward exploration of displacement and migration that juxtaposes the simplicity of drawing a red line on a map with the difficulties undergone within the narratives that accompany the video footage.
As much as politics and conscience would like to see the marking out and use of land as a simple two sided issue with separation and abstraction as the main tools of engagement what these artists create in the installation space and the author on the pages of Hollow Land is a multidimensional picture that requires a more careful engagement and ultimately seems to question the sanity of drawing lines at all in an ever shifting ground.
The exhibition is on until the end of the week and the book can be found on the shelves of Aye Aye books in the CCA’s foyer space.
Post by: Caroline