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Territorial Trauma: Recent Video Installations by Yael Sloma

Mon, December 17, 10:30am to 12:00pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Cityview 1 Ballroom

Abstract

This paper considers two recent video installations by US-based Israeli artist Yael Sloma whose work, for the past decade, has productively explored specific events and circumstances that have fueled intense debates that revolve around notions of truth and how media cultures produce narratives about them. Most recently, Sloma has staged poignant poetic examinations of political tensions at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in The Teenager (2017) and Cardinal Directions (2018), reframing the emotions that permeate this crisis, offering new pathways for processing cultural trauma.
The Teenager is a tryptich projected onto three connected screens whose arrangement on the gallery floor alludes to the curved surface of a car windshield. A seemingly banal car ride through Jerusalem that ends in a peaceful forest, Sloma’s video represents the fateful car ride taken by Mohamed Abu Khadir, the seventeen-year-old Palestinian kidnapped as a reprisal for the murders of Naftali Frankel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach, the three Israeli teenagers whose bodies were discovered close to the West Bank city of Hebron. Sloma seamlessly sutured together 1400 still images that she shot while retracing the same route that Khadir traveled between being kidnapped and burned alive by his captors; her process underscores each instant and thus theorizes criminal acts as not single events but rather a sum of myriad decisions. Cardinal Directions likewise figures Arab-Israeli tension, this time juxtaposing contemporary footage of both domestic and impromptu, military training structures in illegal Israeli settlements with an intense, six-hour performance of a newly commissioned, country Western style melody set to Psalm 23. A two-channel projection split onto opposite sides of a skeletal, wooden structure that metonymically echoes the makeshift buildings of the illegal outposts she captured during a recent visit to the West Bank, Cardinal Directions considers the ramifications of colonial conquest against the haunting notes of manifest destiny in the nineteenth century in the US.

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