Since late 2009, the West Bank village of Iraq Burin has been subject to land theft and increasing violence from the Israeli military and neighboring settlement of Bracha. In March 2010, the Israeli military entered the village and shot two teenage boys in the street. Counter to Israeli claims that no live ammunition was used, a U.N. report was issued on the incident containing three post-mortem photographs of entry and exit wounds on the boys’ bodies. Excluded from this report and other journalistic accounts is another image: dried blood in the street where the boys fell that spelled “Mohammed.”
Can the photographer, researcher, artist, journalist, human rights worker or activist meet the demands of objectivity and proof required in the documentation of rights abuses and still take the miraculous seriously?
On Iraq Burin consists of 22 large format photographs accompanied by entries from Kennedy’s notebooks recounting demonstrations, settler violence, detention and stories told in the village of the boys’ murder. The form of the notebook is explored here as a genre of writing, driven by the unfinished thoughts and observations purged from (scholarly, legal, journalistic) writings that find their efficacy in objectivity. Photographs of landscape, home interiors, objects referenced in the reports, and the notebooks themselves are sutured to the text to make a sort of half document, quasi record, semi proof of things – not? – encountered.
This program is part of ArteEast’s 2012 series Making the Real: Practices of Documentation.
Michael Kennedy is a photographer and doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University. His work considers the politics of representation by moving between artistic practice and the conventions of ethnography. He holds a M.A. in anthropology from the American University in Cairo, and has taught photography in the Department of Journalism at An Najah University. His writings and photography have appeared in publications and exhibits in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States.
Barrak Alzaid (b. 1985 Kuwait, MA Performance Studies, NYU) is a writer, curator, and artist, and is the Artistic Director of ArteEast. Recent installation and performance work include Seera Kartooniya [Bushwick closed Studios, 2010] and Diwaniya with Fatima Al Qadiri and Aziz Alqatami [Gwangju Design Biennial 2011]. Curatorial work includes antinormanybody [Kleio Projects, 2011]. His article, “Fatwas and Fags: Violence and the Discursive Production of Abject Bodies” is available in The Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.
ArteEast presents the works of contemporary artists from the Middle East, North Africa and their diasporas t a wide audience in order to foster a more complex understanding of the regions’ arts and cultures and to encourage artistic excellence. Through public events, exhibitions, film screenings, a dynamic virtual gallery and a resource-rich website, ArteEast supports artists and filmmakers by providing the platforms necessary for them to showcase groundbreaking and significant work. We also give the public the opportunity to learn more about and develop an appreciation for the talent of these established and emerging artists.