Paper short abstract:
Drawing on conversations between artist and anthropologist, this paper explores the entanglement of three moments within the political capacities enabled by Palestinian art, tracing the lines between them and the what-if and not-yet created inside the impasses of the settler colonial present.
Paper long abstract:
Anthropological theorizing about art has often operated on the assumption that artworks are merely matters of representation; that is, artworks reflect and depict already existing social and cultural worlds. Such an approach, however, consigns the artwork to a secondary status by eliding the agentic capacities of the artwork itself. More recently there has been an effort to direct attention to these agentic capacities, with anthropologists exploring socially-engaged and participatory art. My research with Palestinian artists in Israel has brought to the fore the urgency of thinking about what artworks "do," especially those political capacities they enable for an indigenous minority living within a settler colonial state. Building on these approaches, this paper looks at an artwork by the artist Nardeen Srouji entitled E7tiqan (2012) to think through what political capacities it enables and how it enables them outside of the gallery. The anthropologist and artist engage in a series of open-ended conversations around how the artwork "works" with three moments emerging: the artwork as metaphor for the Palestinian condition under Israeli settler colonialism; the artwork as confrontation with the spectator; the artwork as a sensibility toward the everyday. In this paper I consider the entanglement of these three moments, tracing the lines between them and the what-if and not-yet that is created inside the impasses of the settler colonial present.
From Palestine Out: Art and the Political Imagination