Still from “Ad de’lo Yoda” by Yael Bartana (One channel video installation, 3 min.)
‘Ad de’lo Yoda’ captures a traditional Jewish parade through a crack in a door. Positioning the viewer as an outsider to the celebrations, dancing and colorful costumes are glimpsed momentarily as participants move past the camera. Rather than attempting to explain the ritual’s significance, Bartana’s footage works with theunknowability of identity and heritage that is not our own.
Still from “Summer Camp / Awodah” by Yael Bartana (from 2007. Two channel video and sound installation, 12 min.)
‘Summer Camp’ shows the activities of ‘The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions’ (ICAHD); their actions consist amongst others of rebuilding Palestinian houses in the occupied territories. In the summer of 2006 Bartana filmed a group of ICAHD volunteers consisting of Palestinians, Israeli and various other nationalities, assisted by Palestinian construction workers, who were trying to rebuild in the village of Anata (east of Jerusalem) the former house of Abu Ahmed Al Hadad at exactly the same location where it was demolished by the Israeli authorities at the end of 2005. The result is a phenomenally edited 12 minutes image and sound composition in which Bartana uses the same stylistic devices as the Zionist propaganda films from the first half of the twentieth century. It refers directly to Helmar Lerski’s film ‘Awodah’ from 1934-’35, proclaiming the dream of a Zionist state, which is projected on a second screen.
And that’s partly why I believe Yael Bartana’s art has more potential for reaching out to people than that of provocative artists like Natali Cohen Vaxberg, who shits on the Israeli flag and stages provocative Holocaust monologues at Yad Vashem in her performances. Bartana’s works talks more to emotions and aesthetic moods than the unavoidable simplification of an harsh argument.