Friday, July 10, 2009

Below are four photographs from the exhibition ‘Act of State’ that opened at Constitutional Hill last night, addressed by curator and professor of philosophy and visual culture, Ariella Azoulay. She has kindly made four of its images available on the blog.

Unidentified photographer 1967 1967/09

The Old City of Jerusalem. Crowds, streaming to the spot where, days after the war ended, bulldozers razed what then became the Wailing Wall plaza, gaze beyond the rubble of the Maghrabia Quarter just in front of them. Army generals, who decided in a fell blow to demolish this neighborhood without any official sanction, supposed that the Jews’ enthrallment with the Wall would prevent them from noticing the rubble. One of the generals visiting the place a few days earlier with the Jerusalem Mayor and the General in charge of the Central Regional Command, while the houses were still intact, described it as follows: “We concluded that the entire area facing the Wailing Wall must be cleared. This is a one-time historical opportunity. We knew that June 14th is the Eve of the Feast of Pentecost and multitudes will come to pray at the Wall. We resolved to bring in the bulldozers and act as soon as the Sabbath was out.”

Photographer’s name remains confidential 2001 1967/24/c

Hebron. Before the army denied Palestinians the right to move about large parts of the city of Hebron, this street was a bustling commercial center. The silence it has been fated to has turned it into an ideal atelier for the artist wishing to draw the portrait of an Israeli soldier. The soldier revels in the tourist’s interest in him and stands facing her, erect, his weapon crossing his body closely, his right hand resting on its butt.

Photographer: Anat Zakai 2004 1968/07/c

Huwwara Checkpoint. When the second man on the left presents his ID to the photographer, some meters before reaching the soldier at the checkpoint, he presents to her – and to us – the automatism of this gesture, as well as its absurdity. Each of the other three men seen with him in the same frame expresses a different attitude towards his gesture. The first smiles, the second is not amused, the third is suspicious.

Photographer: Nir Kafri 2002 1968/14/c

Lod. Arrest of ‘illegal aliens’ within the Green Line. A plainclothesman cuffs the hands of an elderly man whose presence in Israel, after years of working for his Israeli employer, has been declared illegal. In order not to risk daily delays at the checkpoints and get to their jobs on time, these men have stayed away from their homes in the Occupied Territories all weekdays, slept in dire conditions in shanties and basements, and been restricted to their sleeping quarters at night.