I’ve discussed the political-aesthetic practice of transposition before – superimposing war ‘over there’ on a city ‘over here’ – in relation to both Baghdad and Gaza. For the most part, these have been cartographic exercises or art performances (see the closing sections of ‘War and peace’ [DOWNLOADS tab] for some more examples).
Film-maker John Greyson has just released this short video, Gazonto, which is doubly different. It takes the rash of video games about Gaza – many of which glorify successive Israeli assaults – and turns them to critical account, and it re-locates the air strikes from Gaza to Toronto (the flipping of the map near the beginning is inspired).
More here; if you are trying to remember where you’ve heard of John before, he was arrested and jailed in Egypt last summer, en route to Gaza with Tarek Loubani, an ER doctor who is one of the main architects of the Canada-Gaza collaboration that is responsible for taking Canadian doctors to Gaza to train local physicians. They spent fifty days in a Cairo jail after John was seen filming Tarek treating demonstrators who had been shot by police in Ramses Square, where they had been protesting the military coup. It was never clear which was the greater crime – treating the demonstrators or witnessing the emergency treatment.
This, of course, is one of the many appalling back-stories spawned by the intimacy between the al-Sisi government in Egypt and the Netanyahu government in Israel: what the splendid Richard Falk calls ‘neighbourly crimes of complicity’. Geopolitics is rooted in these ‘accommodations’, and it cultivates all sorts of deadly blossoms.
But the tendrils reach far beyond the region, and many readers will appreciate why it is so important for a Canadian film-maker to re-stage the attacks on Gaza in a Canadian city. For those who don’t, check out this report on the Harper government’s own video, released as the Israeli assault on Gaza was intensifying, affirming Canada’s support for Israel “Through Fire and Water”. Really.
While I’m on this subject, Laleh Khalili has an excellent essay at the Society & Space open site to accompany the virtual issue on Israel/Palestine. It’s called ‘A habit of destruction’:
The devastation to which Gaza has been subjected in the last few weeks seems to be yet another repetition of Israeli settler-colonial apparatus’ habit of destruction. Gaza has become emblematic of this habit, because in recent years it has so frequently been subjected to bombing while under a state of siege, but like all settler-colonialisms, the violence of the state is rooted not in an episodic “cycle of violence” but in the very ideology and practice of the settler-colonial movement….
The lesson of the most recent Israeli assault on Gaza, as in all previous assaults, is that civilians are not “collateral” or accidental casualties of war between combatants, but the very object of a settler-colonial counterinsurgency. The ultimate desire of such asymmetric warfare is to transform the intransigent population into a malleable mass, a docile subject, and a yielding terrain of domination.
And, as she concludes, ‘That ever so frequently the Israeli military plunges Palestinians into conflagrations of lead and steel and concrete dust and destruction is the clearest sign that it has failed at making Palestinians into such a docile population.’