Inv. Nr. 71
Photo: Bruno Klomfar - Courtesy Yael Bartana, Annet Gelink Gallery, Kerstin Engholm Gallery
Born in 1970 in Kfar Yehezkel, Israel
Lives and works in Tel-Aviv, Israel and Amsterdam, Netherlands
Yael Bartana’s videos usually describe ordinary scenes, in which the specificity of the locations gives political significance and challenges the artist’s own people’s history. Her films balance on a thin line between fact and fiction, history and future, rhetoric and propaganda. The video Summer Camp, made during the summer of 2006, shows the reconstruction of a house in the village of Anata in the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem, which had been destroyed by the Israeli authorities at the end of 2005. The house is rebuilt by local workers helped by volunteers, Israelis and Palestinians, of “The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions” (ICAHD), a pacific organization, which is physically resisting through the act of building instead of destroying. The result is an amazing edited 12-minute long image and sound composition in which Bartana uses the same stylistic devices – discourse, music, images – as the Zionist propaganda films from the first half of the twentieth century – whose motto was “to build and be built.” Between reality, fiction and propaganda, and through these archetypes, the work of Yael Bartana shows the complex development of her nation’s identity, also displayed in the Refusenik posters portraying the pacifists, which go with the movie and blur the line between real and fictional events. “Refusenik” is a term that appeared during Cold War, and which historically designates the Soviet Jews prevented from emigrating abroad. Later on, it applied to any type of protester and by extension notably referred to the Israeli soldiers who refused to fight on occupied territories. Here it refers to a more pacifist action.