On the evening of September 15th, 2009 I attended a talk by Galit Eilat and Reem Fadda at New School University's Vera List Center about the Israeli Center for Digital Art’s Mobile Archive. The Mobile Archive is an archive of approximately 1000 DVDs permanently housed in Holon, Israel currently traveling throughout Europe and the United States. With each new destination it travels to, it grows by as many as twenty-five DVDs depending on the choices of the local curators and artists involved in the collaborative project. Currently, the Mobile Archive is being exhibited at Art in General in SOHO, New York, guest curated by the Israeli-Canadian curator, Chen Tamir, as well as curators Regine Basha and Adina Popescu.
During Eilat's and Fadda's presentations at the New School, I was struck by the curators' many insights about the geopolitical situation in the Middle-East, and the specific ways that native artists are addressing the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Fadda's description of Israel/Palestine as a "laboratory for mobility" was especially interesting, and something which I wanted to discuss further with Eilat and Fadda when the panel concluded. I was also very struck by a video Eilat showed from her Liminal Spaces project, which brings Israeli and Palestinian artists, intellectuals, activists, and scholars into dialogue with one another in order to think about and enact interventions into the bureaucracy that governs Israel/Palestine. This video showed Palestinians and Israelis speaking through the wall separating Israel from Palestine with one another via a two-way video conference. During this conference, to the surprise of the artists responsible for setting up the conference, Israeli soldiers policing the wall did not stop the conference and instead looked on with curiosity and amusement.
One of the issues foregrounded in the following interview, which took place on Friday September 18th between myself, Chen Tamir and Galit Eilat at Art in General, is the extent to which The Mobile Archive and Liminal Spaces are both creating genuinely new spaces for artworks to exist in cross-culturally. The Mobile Archive produces spaces for artists to show work that is in between private and public distribution, inclusivity and exclusivity, and which also challenge art's value as commodity insofar as the Archive prioritizes art's "symbolic" values––the ways that artworks can transmit ideas across cultures and create spaces for cultural dialogue. In the case of Liminal Spaces, artists and fellow travelers come together to find the loopholes in a bureaucratic structure. Much like the work of Eastern European artists such as the Slovenian IRWIN group, Liminal Spaces studies the situation in Israel/Palestine in order to intervene and act in ways that affect people's lives in the region on a day-to-day basis. Whereas the IRWIN group issues civilians passports, Liminal Spaces provides information about the Israeli military's use of checkpoints to police Palestinians and Israel's own civilian population.