Disturbed Landscapes: Environmental Imaginaries in Palestinian and Israeli Contemporary Art
Disturbed landscapes—spaces that are neither pristinely natural nor entirely made by humans—feature prominently in the contemporary artistic imagination. In Palestine and Israel, such spaces include artificial forests, drained wetlands, and military firing zones, to name a few examples. The project examines how Palestinian and Israeli contemporary artists represent and imagine such spaces as sites of political contestation, bringing to light the histories that shaped them.
The artists studied address the connection between ecological ruin and colonial violence, land and resource grabbing, and the dispossession of indigenous populations. They deconstruct the ideological and theological “grand narratives” associated with the country’s landscapes (such as the biblical “land of milk and honey,” or the Zionist “blooming of the desert”) in order to explore the interrelations between humans, plants, and animals that make up these landscapes in their actual, past and present complexity. In studying these works, the project enquires how land and landscape can be part of the political imagination without being ideologically and aesthetically petrified. What does art teach us about the possibilities of life in landscapes deeply scarred by ecological and political destruction?
Fig. above: Ella Littwitz: The Forerunner, 2020, Bronze, 70 x 150 x 25 cm. © Ella Littwitz & Harlan Levey Projects. Courtesy of Harlan Levey Projects.