Wailing Wall

MITRA AZAR / WAILING WALL / KALANDIA CHECKPOINT / 2013
Audio curated by Abdul Rahman Chamber

The performance consists in a two channels video-projection.

On the left screen, the artist slams his head compulsively against the wall which separates Israel from West-bank territories, where the majority of the Palestinian population lives. This gesture recalls the movement that accompanies the prayer of Orthodox Jews in front of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, creating a conceptual short-circuit between one of the most important places of the Jewish religion and the wall erected by the Israeli state to control the movement of the Palestinian people, thus generating devastating economic and social consequences. The gesture, indeed, highlights the relationship between colonial Zionism and Orthodox Judaism.

The performance was carried out on the Palestinian side of the Kalandia checkpoint separating Ramallah (supposed-to-be capital of the Palestinian state) from Jerusalem (where the Wailing Wall is located). It tries to embody metaphorically the violent invasion of Orthodox Jewish body language into the Palestinian territories, recalling the bloody actions of occupation of Palestinian land by Israeli settlers, in spite of the many agreements signed by both parties and supervised by the international community.

In addition, the wound caused by the compulsive repetition of the act recalls the marks that Muslims achieve after years of kneeling and rubbing their fronts against carpets and floors, and also more extreme practices such as those for the celebration of the Ashura by the Shiite, where the faithful hit their heads repeatedly with steel chains, swords and razors, causing copious bleeding. In this sense, the performance creates an additional paradoxical connection between Muslim and Jewish religion.

On a more intuitive level, the clashing of the artist’s head against the wall is as well a nihilistic action reflecting on the apparent impossibility of finding a rational solution to the conflict.

On the right screen, an ant tries to climb along the same wall, dragging some food. The image evokes the illegal crossovers that some Palestinians are forced to undertake to get food, to work, to visit their beloved on the other side of the wall.

The audio that accompanies the performance suggests the hypothetical sound perception of the ant and tries to emphasize the hypnotic repetition of the action, the presence of the wind, the movement of the insect’s legs on the wall.

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