The art: Emily Jacir, Crossing Surda (a record of going to and from work), 2002. Four stills from a two-channel video installation, one 30 minute video and one 132 minute video.
I can’t find any video to share, so here’s Jacir’s description of the piece: “Since March 2001, the Ramallah-Birzeit Road has been disrupted by a checkpoint manned by Israeli soldiers, APCs and sometimes tanks. This road was the last remaining open road connecting Ramallah with Birzeit University and approximately thirty Palestinian villages.
On December 9th, 2002, I decided to record my daily walk to work across the Surda checkpoint to Birzeit University. When the Israeli Occupation Army saw me filming my feet with my video camera, they stopped me and asked for my I.D. I gave them my American passport, and they threw it in the mud. They told me that this was ‘Israel’ and that it was a military zone and that no filming was allowed. They detained me at gunpoint in the winter rain next to their tank. After three hours, they confiscated my videotape and then released me. I watched the soldier slip my videotape into the pocket of his army pants. That night when I returned home, I cut a hole in my bag and put my video camera in the bag. I recorded my daily walk across Surda checkpoint, to and from work, for eight days.
All people including the disabled, elderly, and children must walk distances as far as two kilometers depending on the decisions of the Israeli army at any given time. When Israeli soldiers decide that there should be no movement on the road, they shoot live ammunition, tear gas, and sound bombs to disperse people from the checkpoint.”
The news: The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg has published a dozen or so blog posts in response to President Obama’s speech on the Middle East and North Africa. Highly recommended.
The source: Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London, Brooklyn Museum.