Black Box Installation by Peggy Ahwesh: Kissing Point (Revisited)

Brakhage Center Symposium
March 11 and 12
10am - 5pm

ATLAS Black Box Experimental Studio, Roser ATLAS Center, University of Colorado Boulder
Free and open to the public

Peggy 500 Lessons of War 1 Lessons of war 2 -- 500

Ahwesh’s point of departure is a little known military/urban planning concept “kissing point”, used to articulate geographic junctures where the two territories of Israel and Palestine must make contact or overlap as the land is compromised by the geopolitics of ownership and control and these points indicate the contention.

Kissing Point pt 1

Erotic undertones flavor the meaning of the term [kissing point], offering the potential of interaction and a flirtation with ‘the other,’ giving these junctures a psychological dynamic and more than a bit of ironic interplay. – PA

The exhibition features two distinct videos that together create a friction of both style and concept.  The title piece Kissing Point is a 15-minute split-screen video which pairs footage from inside and around West Bank tunnels with an Israeli bypass road and its environs. Shot during the early hours of the morning, the camera methodically snakes through these aseptic, nearly empty spaces, sometimes forced to stop and double back because of roadblocks or other physical limitations.  Shot mostly at night, street scenes of shopping and men at work are situated as part of the bewildering network of void zones and semi-porous borders that make up this landscape. 

The nighttime skies and landscapes on the physical and political edges of the territory are empty, haunted, and surreal…one’s expansive sense of wanderlust is controlled by the limitations of division… – PA

The second video Lessons of War is presented on monitors and details several episodes from the Israeli-Gaza conflict of 2014. The footage is lifted from a Youtube channel that renders the news in animation, fantastic and imaginative and several protective layers away from reality.  I re-purposed them to comment on our short memories, the reductive narrative of the news and the uneasy detachment one has from distant violence.  The ‘cuteness effect’ of the cartoon form allows for a buffer from reality, a viewing ease and distance that the video challenges.

 

Kissing point 500