Venues: Petach Tikva Museum of Art and Rose Art Museum, Boston
Dor Guez's one-person exhibition, proposes, for the first time, scrutiny of the Christian-Arab minority in Israel, a reference group which has not heretofore been granted profound perusal as a differentiated ethnic group in the local cultural field.
"Georgiopolis" (City of St. George, the Christian name of the city of Lod in the 12th century) unfolds the story of a single Christian-Arab family extending over three generations, sketching cultural, religious, ethnic, and historical junctions. The title of the exhibition is intended to remind viewers of the intricate place of the Christian-Arab-Israeli-Palestinian community in-between the two majority groups in Israel: the Jews, for whom the city is Lod; and the Palestinians for whom it is Lydd.
Georgiopolis, which has grown nearly invisible, resurfaces in-between, acquiring a pivotal presence as yet another figure in Guez's works. The exhibition introduces the voice of the Christian Arabs as an ethnic minority in Israel and a religious-ethnic minority among the Muslim Arabs, challenging the validity of prevalent conventions in the local public discourse as they encounter the private, the personal, and the human.
Guez's project transpires in the realm of praxis and discourse in-between history, anthropology, and art while employing a cinematic practice underlain by a testimonial-documentary dimension. Guez, who is absent-present in his works, uses documentary raw materials presenting the collection of evidence brought before him. His work reports, from the very first sight, it's being evasive, possibly deceptive, devoid of a master narrative, and in any event—one which refuses an unequivocal definition of its identity, much like his interviewees who present to us complex worldviews, replete with conflicts and nuances. While addressing highly charged, partly political, historical issues, Guez presents viewers with these questions through human stories, in a poetical, stratified manner which exposes multiple layers, personal perspectives, and diverse experiences of his protagonists. The power of Guez's work lies in its ability to confront any viewer—regardless of ethnic and/or cultural origin—with their own position concerning notions such as "nationality," "identity," "ethnicity."
* Tָhe exhibition was accompanied by a publication designed by Koby Levi, including essays by Drorit Gur Arie, Ariella Azoulay, and Gil Eyal.
Untitled (St. George Church)
The Greek Orthodox Church of St. George in Lod was built in Ottoman times on the site of an earlier basilica housing the tombof its martyred namesake. For centuries the church has served as the heart of the Christian community of this ancient city, formerly known by its Byzantine name, Georgiopolis, and its Arabic name, al-Lydd. Untitled (St. George Church) is a two-channel video installa- tion comprised of a large video screen suspended in midair, showing the churchâ€™s iconostasis (an icon-covered wall that separates nave from altar), and a second small-screen video showing a priest giving a sermon in Greek, a language that is not understood by the parish- ioners, while an interpreter translates his words into Arabic. Guez punctuates each act of translation by adding the sounds of an oud, a string instrument associated with traditional Arab music not played in church, making audible the cultural gap between the church leaders and the congregation.
Two-channel video installation, Loop, 2009.
Veiled by darkness and overgrown with wild vegetation, these nocturnal landscapes both reveal and obscure remnants of Palestinian architecture destroyed or fallen to ruin in the city of Lod (formerly al-Lydd) after 1948. On July 13, 1948, Israeli military forces conquered the city and evicted the vast majority of the population. Using only light from the surrounding city, Guez photographed these architectural fragments at night, evoking the visual trope of the Romantic ruin.
Chromogenic prints, 120 x 150 cm, 2009. Chromogenic prints, 120 x 150 cm, 2009.