#occupation #migration #civilrights #globalization #fundamentalism
“Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.”—Hannah Arendt
“They were forced […] to condemn us without believing in our existence.”—Claude Cahun
The horrific images emerging from Gaza in the past weeks have displaced any other visual reference in my mind, artistic or otherwise. While artists have historically played a substantial role in reporting on and responding to the tragedy of war, that immediate responsibility has shifted, since the advent of photography, to photojournalists. The question of whether overt political content is well served by art and vice versa is presently an open one that I will leave to others for the time being. Even so, art has an undeniable importance in times of conflict, in that it has the capacity to humanize those whom political and military interests are better served by dehumanizing. Here are a few such projects, presented as a corrective to the systematic denial of Palestinian humanity currently being waged in American media.
In Aissa Deebi’s film The Trial (2013), the artist deliberately invokes Kafka’s tale of bureaucratic torment while commemorating the trial of Palestinian writer and activist Daoud Turki, a leader of the nondenominational Israeli Left who was imprisoned from 1973 to 1985 on charges of treason against Israel. Deebi casts three actors to reenact Turki’s interrogation and defense in what amounts to an absurdist play committed to film. Absurdity is inevitable in a circumstance where the defendant on trial—an Israeli Arab Muslim—is himself an oxymoron according to the prosecution, a state that legally denies the possibility of his existence. Similarly, absurdity is a fact of daily life in occupied Palestine, and humor a necessity for survival but still a characteristic rarely permitted to Palestinians by the international community that tends to objectify the whole lot as either victims or terrorists.