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Smoking Utopia #2, 2008


Smoking Utopia #2 is a collaborative project undertaken together with my colleague Reuven Zahavi. It is part of an ongoing project started in 2006 called Night and Smoke,  a project triggered by  the violence near the Gaza border after the attack on June 25th 2006 by  the Hamas at the Kerem Shalom crossing during which Cpl. Gilad Shalit was abducted and which was followed by  an IDF operation codename  ‘Operation Summer Rain.’

Underlining our work is a concern to infuse artistic autonomy to items utterly immersed in actuality, challenging the usual disinterestedness of aesthetic language regarding the ‘here and now’ through the use of  photography, 3D animation videos and manipulated interactive texts, while breaking up the customary visual and textual meaning of political events channeled through the medias.

Following the installation at the Jerusalem Workshop in 2007 where we exhibited virtual smoke as 3D animations and real smoke in the space, this time in our installation we divided the space in 3 different rooms. In the main room we had a large number of ladders scattered in the space to give a sculptural constructivist framework to our installation. In between the ladders at various heights, we installed old Tvs on shelves  showing various video works relating to events that took place around the Gaza border in the past two years. In another  room we exhibited photographies and prints on paper from 3D files and in another room we projected the Kissufim Labyrinth, a 3D animation work. The work was exhibited shortly before the military campaign codenamed ‘Operation Cast Lead’ launched by the IDF  against  Gaza in December 2008 in order to stop Hamas rockets attacks on southern Israel. This campaign which lasted a month and entailed much wreckage and death, especially in Gaza. Both Israel and Hamas announced a unilateral ceasefires, two days later Israel once more withdrew from Gaza.

In this violent huit-clot, the future  seemed blurred by the smoke coming out from maneuvering tanks, firing artillery and rockets while  the individual, like in the 3 D animation work of Kissufim Labyrinth, becomes a prisoner strolling through a labyrinth of concrete slabs.



Ariane Littman