HKW Haus der Kulturen der Welt

Traum und Trauma

02 - 18 Dec 2005

Dream and Trauma
Moving Images and the Promised Lands
02.12.2005 - 18.12.2005

We often take for granted the names which are given to countries, lands and territories. How was Germany or America named? Looking through the folds of history we can find same aspects which can help find indications for these titled territories. In the same sense, Israel is the name of a nation, derived from the twelve tribes of Israel depicted in the Old Testament - but it is also the term describing an idea, a notion. The "Promised Land" of the Bible has become a dream for some people and a trauma for others. This extensive programme of film screenings and moving image exhibition looks beyond the classified into the complex realities of contemporary Israel and its occupied territories.

Palestinians do not only feature as rock-throwers but also as tourists travelling through post-1948 Israel in a bus, musing on their right to the land which they can only view in this guise. Israelis are not depicted as soldiers but as punks debating the margins of music and the fate of the pedestrian in urban centres. Part of the focus of the programme is to examine the complexity of the land in terms of Israeli societies and subcultures, or of those who are perceived as the outsiders due to their ethnic or sexual difference. This set of references and this context provides a fresh set of positions to help the viewer into the complexity that we call Israel within the Middle East. The programme is curated to allow these subsets an enduring voice through documentaries that pursue their lived realities. In the documentary, “Eshbal”, the Ethiopian migration is tackled by examining their Jewish identity but within a black diasporic reality. This reality evidently contests their `high risk` grouping by the state, providing an insight into their humiliation culminating in their final relocation in 'planeloads' to Israel during “Operation Solomon” in 1991 and, of course, the inevitable experiences of alienation. "European" Israel shows no understanding of their "archaic" ways of life, yet has no alternative to offer them either. In the feature film, “Thirst”, the apocalyptic vision of the director, Tawfik Abu Wael, exposes the plight of a Palestinian family, living in a ghost town outside a Palestinian village with a blighted past impeding their every movement. "Israel", both as a state and an impediment to their existence, plays a constant role in their life, including the provision of running water and having to be guarded against state surveillance. If, on the other hand, contemporary classics including "terror" or "checkpoint" are examined, they are depicted from a new perspective: Would be-terrorists are portrayed within the emotional and mental torment of their suicide plight, checkpoints not only as scenes of brutality, but in all their laconic cruelty of eating up time. The moral index finger never has to be raised directly but is constantly there in the self criticism by these cameras.
The film programme is divided into 15 nights covering topics ranging from "Tradition and Fertility" to "Music Fatalities", trying to examine the multiplicity of realities in Israel. This does not endeavour to write the "grand narrative", but rather to supply the audience with small snapshots in a grand album. These "snapshots" include feature films as well as documentaries and art videos mirroring the aforementioned multiplicity in form as well as content. Three nights are curated by those working within the region, giving their own perspective on the scene. The Moving Image installations of the exhibition are meant to be a counter narrative and complement to the film nights: Being less context driven but contemplative, they use a highly individual art language and sense of aesthetic to deal with issues of territory, the self and identity. Here the use of moving image becomes engrossed in revealing finer nuances about the idea of Israel - of citizenship, of settlement and of utopian ideals. All promises that the land tries to deliver but at a price that seems incomprehensible.Young artist Talia Keinan films her hometown Tel Aviv through a glass of tea, with tea leaves slowly dropping to the bottom. A surreal scenery emerges that looks as much like a theatre of war as like black rain falling on a fairy tale city. Karen Russo produces a documentary on spontaneous human combustion, a phenomenon which burns people from the inside with no signs of fire to be observed. It could be read as much as a metaphor for 'living under occupation' as for such a universal human torment as - love.

This series is made possible through the support of the Hauptstadtkulturfonds.

Tags: Talia Keinan, Art & Language, Art & Language, Karen Russo