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Molding Resistance: Aesthetics and Politics in the Struggle of Bil’in against the Wall

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Chapter Summary

The residents of Bil’in, a Palestinian village located in the West Bank, make use of sculptural objects in their weekly demonstrations against the separation wall that is being built on their land by the Israeli authorities. In March 2006 some of these objects were displayed at an art exhibition in Tel Aviv. This paper draws on the work of Jacques Rancière in order to gain insight into the politics and the aesthetics of the sculptures in both locations: it examines their role in their original context, as material parts of a performance of resistance at the border as well as against that border; and in their secondary context, displayed in a white cube gallery in Tel Aviv. I show how, in Rancière’s vein, both events are related inasmuch as the same objects bring about political occurrences that involve a reorganization of the senses. This proposition is relevant for expanding the notions of migratory politics as a part of migratory aesthetics. Migration here does not refer to the movement of people: it is both a migration of a condition, from relative freedom to confinement, where the residents of Bil’in are dislocated from their lands without leaving their homes; and a migration of objects from one regime of visibility to another, where the sculptures refer to a different set of questions regarding their artistic nature in each location. Both movements suggest that the politics of the migratory has as much to do with moving mindsets as with moving bodies, in its attempt to make visible the space where categories transform into, through, and against each other.



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