Eyal Weizman and Rafi Segal’s detailed analysis of the spatial politics of the West Bank, “A Civilian Occupation: The Politics of Israeli Architecture,” serves as the core of the “Territories” exhibition now on view at Kunst-Werke. Looking at the production, occupation, and control of space in the Mediterranean, Christiania, and Guantanamo Bay, among other places, the show depicts a complex set of conditions around politically contentious spaces both physical and virtual.
Among the many highlights two stand out. One is Armin Linke’s video of Paelstinians ducking into sand dunes to avoid gunfire at Gaza Strip checkpoint, a strange scene that depicts vulnerability and ordinary routine in equal measures. The other is a point where you can watch two videos simultaneously in spaces separated by a dividing wall. One shows a heavily fortified bulldozer tearing up a Bethlehem street to make a blockade, the ruptured pipes below it hemorrhaging muddy water as nearby residents peer from apartment windows. The other shows a seamless ride on a limited-access highway through the West Bank that links Israel with its settlements. The difference between the control and usage of these two thoroughfares couldn’t be clearer.
“A Civilian Occupation” was originally commissioned by the Israel Association of United Architects for inclusion at the World Congress of Architecture in Berlin last summer, but was censored at the last minute by the IAUA after representatives saw the completed catalog. Kudos to the Kunste-Werke crew for taking on the show and expanding it into “Territories.”