Video Works



Dor Guez’s work generates overlapping geographical, temporal, and epistemological journeys. Employing an array of video and photographic practices, the artist leads us into distinct sites in contemporary Israel and the Mediterranean area. Through his art, Guez reverses the process of depersonalization and distancing that Shapira describes. He insists on reintroducing individual experiences and personal testimonies from Israel/Palestine into our range of vision, exposing the tragic human dimension that had been repressed and hidden from view.

The videos that were chosen for this project focus on three generations of a Christian Arab family from Lod—the Monayers’. As we sit face to face with them in their living rooms (and even gain access to a kitchen and bedroom), we learn about their lives, experiences, and subtle family dynamics. The camera’s mostly static stance, eye-level height, and physical proximity to the protagonists create an intimate, empathetic ambience. The fact that we occupy the artist’s position transfers the Monayers’ trust in him to us.

In Watermelons under the Bed, Samih describes his father’s situation after 1948 and his decisions as a Christian Arab in the newly established State of Israel: “He grew with it, and if he wanted to survive, he had to adjust to the new situation, dance between the drops and survive in the new environment.” The camera cuts back and forth between Samih, sitting on his parents’ couch, and Jacob, his dad, who is shown only in fragments, at home: lying in bed, examining watermelons, and sitting in the kitchen cutting sabra cacti. These plants symbolize attachment to the land for both Palestinians and Israelis.

The video 40 Days also offers a deeply personal story, which relates to a larger narrative. In this case, it is the death of Jacob, the artist’s grandfather.

The video also relates to a larger and more complex narrative: the story of the place where he is buried, the Christian Palestinian cemetery in Lod, which has been vandalized by other religious groups.

The schism between self-identification and the way one is identified by outsiders is also addressed in (Sa)Mira, an extended monologue by Guez’s nineteen-year-old cousin, who describes her painful experiences with racism and asserts that she feels “both Israeli and Arab.” At a certain point, after breaking down in tears, Samira restarts her narrative from the beginning, and through recounting her story, she analyzes her place within Israeli society with increasing self-awareness. Guez’s occasional statements and questions -his voice and person add subtle texture to each video, an intentional blurring of his documentary style- result in Samira’s asking, pointedly: “What does it mean to feel Israeli? And what does it mean to feel Arab?”

13’ 40’’ | HD | Color | Stereo

2009

Screening format: High-definition digital video

Israel

(Sa)Mira

Samira is a first-year psychology student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her colloquial Hebrew, sartorial choices and mannerisms render her indistinguishable from her Jewish Israeli contemporaries. Guez asks her to recount a recent experience: in the restaurant where she works as a waitress, her Arabic first name evoked racist responses, causing her boss to ask her to change her name to the more Jewish-sounding Sima; they finally settle on Mira. As she recalls the incident and repeats it at Guez’s prodding, she begins to articulate the complexity of her identity and how racism impacts her life.

8’ | HD | Color | Stereo

2010

Screening format: High-definition digital video

Israel

Watermelons Under the Bed

Guez’s camera dwells on Jacob Monayer in intimate settings with watermelons and sabra cacti. Intermingled with these quotidian moments, Jacob’s son, Samih, recalls his parents process of adjusting to life in Israel after 1948 and the choices they made for their children. The watermelon and the sabra cactus carry symbolic significance linking identity and place within both Palestinian and Israeli cultures.

15’ 10’’ | HD | Color | Stereo

2012

Screening format: High-definition digital video

Israel

40 Days

In the Eastern Orthodox Church it is believed that the souls of the deceased wander the Earth for 40 days when ascension of the soul then occurs; special prayers at the gravesite and in the church are then held in memorial of the departed. The installation offers a deeply personal, familial story: the death of Ya qoub Monayer and his memorial service 40 days later. It also relates to a larger and more complex narrative: the story of the place where he is buried, the Christian Palestinian cemetery in Lod, which has been vandalized by other religious groups. The destruction of the cemetery reflects the position of the Christian Palestinians living in Israel as a minority within the wider Palestinian minority.

20’ | 4K | Color | Stereo

2015

Screening format: High-definition digital video

Israel

The Sick Man of Europe: The Painter

Entitled The Painter, this video is the first of five from a new body of work, The Sick Man of Europe. Guez’s project reflects on the military history and current political climate of the Middle East through the creative practices of individual soldiers from the region. <br /> The video presents the story of a painter-turned-soldier, a Jewish Tunisian who immigrated to Israel. The “painter” was conscripted to the Yom Kippur War as a reservist soldier in 1973 and, in recent years, has undergone psychiatric treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, part of which consists of repeatedly recording his memories of the war. These recordings are central to Guez’s new work, and relate directly to his artistic strategy of repetition and storytelling in re-evaluating accounts of the past.

See all the programs