The occupying spectator: Audio-visual ruptures in performative representations of Israeli - Palestinian encounters

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This essay examines three performances which were the outcome of personal dialogues between Israeli performance artists and Palestinian women, and that critically engage the complexity of this (non-)encounter. The three performances I discuss are Umm Muhammad (2011) by Smadar Yaaron; She Has a Headache in Her Stomach (2002), by Tamar Raban; and You Are Not Here - A dislocative tourism agency (2006), an audio-walk created by Mushon Zer-Aviv, an Israeli open-source designer, and Laila El-Haddad, a blogger and journalist from Gaza. Although created in different historical contexts and deal with different phases of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, these performances share the rendering of the Palestinian woman as a presence that is confined to her aural performance; in these performances, the voices of the Palestinian women are imprisoned within the technological apparatus and subjected to operation by the mediation of the Israeli spatial presence. This essay traces the trajectory of the Palestinian voice from the speaker's body, through its channeling via the mediation of the Israeli performer, to its embodiment by the Israeli spectators. In each of these phases I analyse the separation of the Palestinian feminine voice from the spatial performance as a manifestation of territorial and cultural notions of discontinuity and disruption. I identify the audio-spatial dissociation as a strategy by which these artists imagine and conceptualize the possibility of a shared space. The notion of rupture therefore operates as a mode of representation applied to negotiate the imaginative perception of the Israeli-Palestinian encounters. I argue that by centring on the personal experiences of the performers, these works challenge the disturbing imaginings that such spatial separations elicit, and offer the possibility of re-experiencing the Palestinian voice as an integral part of the Israeli public sphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-63
Number of pages10
JournalPerformance Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 © 2014 Taylor & Francis.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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