Tamir Zadok | Gaza Envelope

In his exhibition “Gaza Envelope”, Tamir Zadok presents early and new works. He gathers several pieces that were either photographed in the south of Israel or dealt with it. A series of new works: photographs of a magic carpet tied to bouquets of balloons, critically and ironically deal with the political-security situation in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2018 and is inspired by the cartoon genre. Flying white balloons and failed attempts to fly a carpet correspond with the Gaza incendiary kites, presenting them as an innocent and childish act, fantastic and poetic, and at the same time, idiotic and unfounded. The flat, open, and sandy, wild, and idyllic landscapes of the south, are in contrast to the military-security reality in the area. The white balloons bouquets sent to the envelope’s sky, like woolly clouds against the blue skies, deceive us with their innocence until they land in crop fields or open grazing areas and eucalyptus groves and release explosives that burn the lots. The unbearable lightness, literally, of this simple means and its ability to inflict so much damage, as if itself created within the confines of the cartoon, mocks our helplessness against it. The image of the magic carpet is also familiar to us from cartoons, such as Aladdin and the Magic Lamp. It invites us to a fantastic dream adventure, clashes with Gaza Envelope’s impending reality, and brings a different perspective on the futility of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. How can this poetic beauty be contained within our reality, and what here is “real” and realistic and what is imagined? How does the carpet rise? Zadok stretches the gap between the actual and the poetic and creates a beautiful image.

Along with the stills on the plasma screen, a fragment of work in process will be projected using the stop-motion technique. The video, as well, is comical and corresponds with the actions of Jokey, a star character in the animated series “The Smurfs.” Jokey pulls pranks, inventing innocent-looking gift packages tied with a red ribbon, which explode in the recipient’s hands. In the video, Tamir Zadok is filmed as an innocent caricature in fast motion, receiving a gift box exploding in his hands and burning his shirt.

Alongside the new works are two earlier works. In “The Gaza Canal” (2010), Tamir Zadok deals with an attempt to create a film that meets the historical documentaries tradition (broadcaster-announcer, seemingly historical photos, graphs). Using propaganda tools, he produces brainwashing and sells a “magic solution” to the situation in the Gaza Strip. It’s a mockumentary film that seems logical and compelling. The film describes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution through a political operation called “Quiet Water” (2002), a trench digging and a fictional earthquake that disconnects the Gaza Strip from the State of Israel and turns Gaza into a thriving and flourishing island. In the film, Zadok uses staged and fictional photography. His father portrays the minister, friends, and family members as the digging Israeli and Arab boys. Zadok himself enters the set as the photobombing jerk. The film is inspired by his favorite historical museum film genre, which in the attempt to bring history closer to the public, reinvents it a bit, produces a hyper-realistic experience, combines a personal-fictional story with the historical event, fabricates imaginary characters, illustrates spaces, buildings and people that are no longer with us. Zadok also takes the liberty to invent a little, slide through the pages of history, and produce an alternative history (which we would be thrilled to adopt).

Another film (2011-2014) shows a group of boys walking in line on beams in a military training complex in the country’s south. In this film, the emphasis is on the construction of Israeli masculinity, built through the place, the army, and male initiation ceremonies. The male scene becomes aesthetic and poetic against the magnificent desert landscape in the Arad area. In recent years, Tamir Zadok has been preoccupied with the question of photographic truth: what is real and what is fake, what is actually taken from reality, and how conventions of fact and fiction can be treated. In his latest exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum, “Art Undercover” (2018), he focuses on the Middle Eastern space and questions regarding his Eastern identity and the figure of the spy, who is the perfect impostor. In his new works, too, Tamir Zadok is preoccupied with the gap between the real and fictional and the imaginary, between the seemingly innocent and poetic and the actual, and creates an ironic parallel to a genre from a different world – that of the cartoon, which is seemingly innocent, child-friendly but often saturated with violence and wars and macabre humor. In this film, the emphasis is on the construction of Israeli masculinity, built through the place, the army, and male initiation ceremonies. The male scene becomes aesthetic and poetic against the magnificent desert landscape in the Arad area.

Dr. Ziva Jelin

More images from the exhibition