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