Venues: KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin
With his video works and photographs, Dor Guez creates direct access to a narration, which embodies Israel’s past and present at once. Guez questions ideas around ethnic identity by exploring the history of his family; a family in which elements of Christian, Arab, Jewish, Palestinian and Israeli history merge. Very personal, yet mediated through the camera, the protagonists move between the levels of the narration, thus, multi-layered and split identities surface and internal and external points of views become apparent. In his first large-scale solo exhibition in Europe, Al-Lydd, Dor Guez, who was born in Jerusalem, conceived three new works, the two photo series Al-Lydd and Scanograms # 1, as well as the video work Watermelons Under the Bed.
* Tָhe exhibition was accompanied by a publication including essays by Susanne Pfeffer, Felix Ensslin, and Ariella Azoulay. Published by: DISTANZ Verlag, Berlin
Guez's series of photographs titled Al-Lydd depicts the remains of the Arab city in Lod today. Such as the hovering floor of an Arab house in a sea of thorns. But also subtler traces like a pit in the ground where there used to be a house, or leftover gravel, bear witness to the cities history.
Archival inkjet print, 50—35 cm, 2010.
Samira is a first-year psychology student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her colloquial Hebrew, sartorial choices and mannerisms render her indistinguishable from her Jewish Israeli contemporaries. Guez asks her to recount a recent experience: in the restaurant where she works as a waitress, her Arabic first name evoked racist responses, causing her boss to ask her to change her name to the more Jewish-sounding Sima; they finally settle on Mira. As she recalls the incident and repeats it at Guezâ€™s prodding, she begins to articulate the complexity of her identity and how racism impacts her life.
Video, 13:40 minutes, 2009.
In this video Jacob Monayer (1920-2011) recalls the watershed events of July 13, 1948, when his hometown, al-Lydd, was conquered by Israeli military forces. Most of the town's population was forced into exile. Jacob was among about one thousand Palestinians, most of them Christian, who sought refuge in the Church of St. George. After the war, they were not permitted to return to their homes, which were looted, and were resettled in a fenced-in area around the church dubbed the Lod Ghetto. Jacob and his family eventually became citizens of the newly established State of Israel.
Video, 13:18 minutes, 2009.
Sami Monayer (b. 1956) articulates the complexity of his range of possible identities (Arab/Christian/Israeli/Palestinian) situated between what he describes as "Eastern" and "Western" cultures. While he attempts to express his position, his wife and daughters (heard off-camera) interrupt him, arguing with his self-definitions. Sami traces the oscillations between his sense of belonging to and alienation from both Israelis and Palestinians as a member of the Christian minority within the Muslim minority, within the Jewish majority of Israel. The title of the video links two distinct types of cars popularly associated in contemporary Israel with Arabs (Subaru) and Israelis (Mercedes).
Video, 6:00 minutes, 2009.
Watermelons under the Bed
Guez's camera dwells on Jacob Monayer in intimate settings with watermelons and sabra cacti. Intermingled with these quotidian moments, Jacob's son, Samih, recalls his parents' process of adjusting to life in Israel after 1948 and the choices they made for their children. The watermelon and the sabra cactus carry symbolic significance linking identity and place within both Palestinian and Israeli cultures.
Two-channel video instllation, 8:00, 2010.