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Wounded Forests (2006), 2006

Between 2003-2007, closely monitoring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a photojournalist, I would often wonder, as wars break out and as walls are erected, if it was still possible for us, artists, to ethically relate to our landscape in a romantic way.

In August 2006, I drove up North a few days before the cease fire. Tanks and artillery were deployed along the border and exhausted soldiers still waited for orders from the political echelon. In the vicinity of a temporary memorial site erected to the soldiers recently killed by a missile, I took a stroll through an olive orchard. Walking between the burned trees, I stopped in front of an olive tree ripped apart. I sat and stared at it, losing track of time. This wounded tree touched my heart, similarly to the uprooted olive trees I had seen three months before in the Palestinian village of Jayyus not far from Qalqilya.

A few days after my visit to Kiryat Shmona, I took part in a field trip to the forests of Biriya organized for the Foreign Press. The earth was covered with thick grey ash and the smell of smoke was still very strong. In this forest with endless rows of thin dark skeletons, I took noticed that there were no difference between the trees and their shadows, both were black. In this forest I recall that I heard no birds.

Identical feeling of subtle awe I had felt in 1991, invaded me. Back then I had discovered that the forest, originally donated in 1967 by my family to the Jewish National Fund (JNF), was not the intended recreational forest but instead served as a camouflage for a closed military area.

In August 2006, as the II Lebanon War came to an end, what had been a relaxing recreational forest for families to gather on a sunny weekend became a wounded forest. Even though the sunset was still breathtaking, like before the war, the  forest now had became  a sea of black trees, a wound in the landscape.

March 2011

Ariane Littman