Filmmaker and performer Mocha Jean Herrup brings a filmmaker’s eye and a queer deconstructive lens to an exhibit of photographs that redefines the frame of Israel / Palestine.
“Israel / Palestine: An Act of Seeing” is a series of digital images and personal narrative from the contested and conflicted place of Israel / Palestine. Photos are paired into seamless diptychs whose juxtapositions evoke connection and exclusion, reflecting the picture taker’s own awareness of racialized seeing and passive acts of demarcation.
“This exhibit is an artistic expression of my personal experience becoming more aware of a pre-determined lens that organizes and excludes certain people. It is my struggle to identify that lens when it shows up, over and over again.”
What began as a project on Israeli film expanded to something else. I’ve been holding on to these images—Tear gas flying, Illegal settler construction, Academy Award nominated filmmakers, The Western Wall, The al-Aqsa Mosque, Turkish coffee, Palestinian Police, Prime Ministers, Walls of separation, Disappeared Arab villages, Cinematheques, Israeli BDS activists, Vadi Salib, Queer Tel Aviv, Media Studies at Al Quds, Arafat’s Grave, Ofer Prison, The Old City of Jerusalem, and more—looking for a way they could talk. Lying on a friend’s couch in San Francisco, feeling safe, I saw two images together, and my work began.”
There is nothing to show, everything to reveal.
A different perspective from the one expressed in this exhibit is easy to find. Watch the evening news, open a newspaper, turn on the radio, click on CNN. Mainstream media frames its reporting around national struggle, anti-Semitism, non-state terrorism, and Western innovation. Rarely, if ever, does the frame include colonialism, empire, water resources, internationally recognized human rights, and racial capitalism. One person’s conflict is another’s Occupation. This exhibit is an attempt at solidarity with Palestinians and all indigenous people of color. It is my project, as an Ashkenazi American Jew, to hold another’s suffering without comparing it to my own.”
Dr. Mocha Jean Herrup is a filmmaker, writer, performer and digital designer whose work employs humor, alternative documentary practices, and queer theory to confront arrangements of power that hide in plain site. Herrup is a professor in Radio-TV-Film and a co-founder of the Peace & Conflict studies program at the Austin Community College. Her award winning films have screened on the Sundance Channel, Northwest Airlines, at the Walker Art Center, SXSW, and in other festivals around the world.