Master Seminar: Contemporary Performance Strategies

Event date: Thursday 8 May 2008, 1.30 p.m. – 4.45 p.m.
Location: Film Plateau, Paddenhoek 2

“Art and Occupation: Images from the Border-Landscapes between Israel and Palestine”
Public seminar with Freddie Rokem (Department of Theatre Studies, Tel Aviv University)

“I want to examine an incident at a road block which took place in November 2004, documented in a short video and was also reproduced as a still in Israeli media. This image immediately became broadly discussed and contested. It shows a young Palestinian man playing a violin at a check point while a group of Israeli soldiers are standing and guarding the place. This image was immediately drawn into larger clusters of signification where the rhetorical strategies employed become both quite complex and ambiguous.

Analyzing this image I will first discuss the historical associations of the image, arguing that the associations with the Holocaust are actually a way to minimize the pain and suffering of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation rather than highlighting them in a broader universal context. Another aspect of this image is connected to the technologies of creating and disseminating images of conflict/occupation and how they affect the ethical discussions surrounding this incident. In my conclusion I will argue that historical associations and technological innovations can create conflicting and even contradictory constellations which tend to obscure rather than sharpen the ethical dimensions of images like the Palestinian violin player at the check point.

I will also present a number of graffiti paintings on the separation wall, in particular by the British graffiti artist Banksy.”