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Dead Lands: Karkaot Mawat

April 16 May 15, 2016

Curated by: Rotem Rozental. Participating Artists: Michal BarOr, Assaf Evron, Josh Franco, Dor Guez, Gaston Zvi Ickowicz, Yaron Lapid, Metehan Özcan, Alona Rodeh.

Dead Lands engages with identity conflicts and their manifestation in contemporary work; the exhibition and its public programming will open this conversation to an international audience, focusing on artistic practices that uncover identity shaped through land, both concrete and imagined.

This exploration begins in the Middle East. In 1858 Ottoman Palestine, the Ottoman regime allowed locals to cultivate abandoned lands classified as Mawat, meaning, in a state of death. The territorial compromise was cancelled under British rule. During the 1948 war, Jordan occupied Judea and Samaria, regulating those lands under Jordanian statute. After the Six Days War (1967), Israel decreed the area as military territory.

Raanan Alexandrowicz’s 2011 documentary The Law in These Parts, reveals another turn. Tracing the legal base of Israel’s military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, the film outlines the juridical approval of capture of Palestinian territories. By invoking Ottoman law, lands that were not farmed over three years were deemed Mawat, therefore available for confiscating.

Moving beyond Israel’s conflicted, seen and unseen borders, Dead Lands engages with international practice. Much like their works, the artists are in a constant state of migration: between places of residence, local and global production and pre-determined subject positions.

Dead Lands suggests land itself as a point of reference, a beginning or an end. The participating artists use institutional systems such as archives, communal rituals and national visual rhetoric, to undermine and subvert the narratives and histories they preserve and distribute. This negotiation of their identity is in persistent struggle with the land that seeks to define, celebrate, marginalize or exclude them.

The Map

Michal BarOr. The Map, 2013. Archival inkjet print on rice paper. 60 x 100 cm. Courtesy the artist.

Based in Beacon, NY, Rotem Rozental is a photo-historian, writer, and curator. Currently, she serves at the Dr. Sophie Bookhalter Research Fellow for Jewish Culture at the Center for Jewish History (CJH). As Doctorate Candidate in the Art History Department of Binghamton University, her dissertation project investigates the intersections of the nation-state, civic engagement, photography and archival practices, as these have unfolded in the conflicted history of the Middle East. In recent years, she served as the Online Editorial Director of The Shpilman Institute for Photography and the Jerusalem Season of Culture. Her writings and scholarly texts appeared in magazines, journals, and publications such as Artforum.com, Philosophy of Photography, and Uncertain States. Her curatorial projects include We – Festi-Conference for Creative Collectives (2012-2013, Jerusalem), Three Cities Against the Wall (New York, Ramallah and Tel Aviv, 2005), and the collaborative archival project Outlet: The Archive of the Israeli Trade Center. Her exhibition Dead Lands: Karkaot Mawat won the NurtureArt Curatorial Call and will open on April 15, 2016. In the past decade, Rotem has been working in Israel and the US as a consultant, editor, writer and organizer for international institutions and publications, as well as cultural non-profits and organizations.

NURTUREart gives special thanks to Artis, Supreme Digital, and The Print House for generous support of the exhibition Dead Lands: Karkaot Mawat.

Find Metehan Özcan‘s open archive Made in Contact here.

Featured Img: Yaron Lapid, from the series Partial Moments, digitally manipulated found photographs. Varying dimensions. Courtesy the artist.