Footnotes Playing Dead
Exhibition: 16 January – 14 February 2015
View the Art Monthly review of Footnotes Playing Dead here .
The exhibition title takes its cue from the opening lines of Günter Grass’ famously controversial poem What Must Be Said, which considers personal and collective responsibilities in times of adversity and interminable conflict; and also reflects on children’s games and certain theatrical demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza, where children pretend to be dead. Playing dead is a game with many variants – acting out being shot, or playing dead to avoid injury or confrontation.
Nathan seeks to criticize Israel, and distance herself from its “infective colonisating attitudes and war-mongering mentality”, but her work takes a broader and more playful approach to looking at conflict, a tactic which might seduce a viewer in order to implicate them. She particularly aims at European audiences, whose governments fund the decades-long Israeli occupation, in order to reveal, in a seductive a way as possible, what the long term effects of wars and conflicts are on us all, as individuals and societies. As stated by Artist Simon Leung ‘...even if we do not live under the direct threat of war’s violence, we understand ourselves in relationship to the state-sanctioned killing of others, elsewhere, in our time, and at times in our name’.
The Israeli Palestinian conflict, along with its consequences, might fade in and out of public consciousness, but some of its core issues such as migration, boundaries and lack of basic human rights - reverberate through western societies as they relentlessly send their armies into war zones. And however far afield these conflict zones are, their legacies and consequences, can manifest themselves in harrowing ways, as seen recently in London, Boston and other western cities. In Nathan’s version of Monopoly, the best the winner (armed with all the right ID cards and passes) can achieve is to survive around the board.
Through a variety of ludic and interactive artworks Footnotes Playing Dead will create participatory experiences in which the viewers are invited to “play with” and explore for themselves some of these complexities, offering what artist Allan Kaprow has called ‘experienced insight’, specifically through everyday and often overlooked narratives and chance encounters.