Mapping a Different View

smithsonian.com
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Last week I visited
The Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery, a delightful space in the Washington DC Jewish Community Center. Their current show “ L(A)TTITUDES" attempts to mediate a discussion surrounding the borders and boundaries of Israel and Palestine. On the surface, I expected a historical survey of the area’s cartography, giving perhaps a sterile, graphical representation of the boundaries and as they moved to and fro with the political winds. Happily, this was not the case. The works show more personal views of the effects and repercussions of drawing these lines, whether figuratively with a “security fence" or physically through a look at where a virtual map line falls on the ground. These lines show the inclusions and exclusions, the trusts and distrusts, the hopes and realities, and the “us vs. them." In the photographic series “The Green(er) Side of the Line," Alban Biaussat documents places and spaces along the Green Line of the 1949 Rhodes armistice agreement, and thereby shows the improbability of separating the physical space of a family’s back patio or a local butcher’s shop that happens to be on the line. Yoav Galai’s “East Jerusalem Outside the Slogans" is a photojournalistic essay that documents the physical wall/fence that runs through East Jerusalem and the neighborhoods it bisects. Karey Kessler’s “Desert" maps her personal journeys and memories of traveling through and living in Israel. Joyce Kozloff’s love of traditional technique is displayed in a series of small frescos that display how a culture’s societies and biases become evident in the way they draw their maps. Anna Fine Foer and Doug Beube examine the alternate scenarios. Foer’s collaged “Vayikra" looks at what an absence of Israel could mean to its neighbors. Beube’s “Amendment," an altered atlas, takes the idea a step further by physically zipping other countries onto Israel’s borders. Wendy Fergusson, the gallery’s director, navigated heated discussions, tensions, and withdrawals of both works and donor support to curate a show that reaches across the line to embrace many difficult and divergent points of view. Such courage in the time of political correctness is both refreshing and commendable. (Photo Credit: Sam Hunter. Joyce Kozloff’s “#31. Knowledge: The Holy Land, 1584." Permission for use granted by The Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery at the Washington DCJCC.)

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