Judy Price: Within this narrow strip of land

23 May 2008 – 22 Jun 2008

Danielle Arnaud

London, United Kingdom


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Within this narrow strip of land is a video and sound installation by Judy Price. A number of video works are presented from her lengthy research in Israel and Palestine. The new works explore ways in which communities and individuals are framed and incited by the irreversibility of loss in Israel and Palestine. Price is interested in how power manipulates loss for its own end and decides whose loss is valid, how it is negotiated and from what perspective loss is seen and acted on. The film material has been shot in a number of locations in Israel and the Palestinian territories, including a vestige of the British, St John's Eye Hospital in East Jerusalem. St. John's Eye Hospital, a charitable foundation founded in 1882 by the British is located in East Jerusalem and serves the predominantly Arab populations of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalemites irrespective of their ability to pay. In The Refrain, a double screen video projection with sound, St John's Eye Hospital is employed as a powerful metaphor for transformation and visibility, the process of healing of damaged sight, sight damaged by the ‘other'. The iris is a mirror, barrier or reflection in which images, actions and events are inscribed with or without the subject's will. Filmed through objects, glass or medical tools The Refrain shows partial visibility of this environment. For The Refrain Judy Price has commissioned the Norwegian sound artist Maia Urstad to construct a sound piece incorporating ambient sounds from the eye hospital within an abstract composition. A number of small vignettes from different locations in Israel and the Palestine, like moving stills are placed around the gallery. Caught moments with partial visibility her videos often depict a landscape framed by an elevated and suspended viewpoint, as a way of rearticulating the significance of territory in this disputed land. For example, in Time Line, a film of a cable car over Jericho offers both a privileged view of the town at the same time it alludes to an ambiguous state of suspension and destabilised vision. The diversity of Price's images, which encompass archival material, the observation of unexpected events caught in passing or the focused long term study of a resonant place address a situation overwhelming in its complexity. However, within this we are offered moments of epiphany, tentative celebrations of possible freedom and humanity which again challenge the stereotypes of Israeli and Palestinian with which the West is most familiar. In Saffron of Jerusalem a butterfly dances on a Jerusalem rooftop or a boisterous stag night is observed at the Dead Sea beach, in Light Drinks the Dark. As the viewer moves between the illuminated screens and projections, their passing recalls the crossing of conflicted borders and territories, which have come to define the experience of space and movement between Israel and Palestine. Within the images themselves, further displacements are orchestrated through the slippage between sound and image in the auditory blur between video screens. From the 9 to 29 June, in parallel to this exhibition there will also be a number of screenings at the Imperial War Museum of archival films from the British Mandate in Palestine (1917-1948). As part of this programme Reel will be screened, a video piece by Judy Price using archival material from the British Mandate period, courtesy of the Imperial War Museum. In Reel Price selected the disrupted residues of film — the lead-ins and endings of film stock. The scuffing and scratching from handling film material, black cue dots, overexposing at the end of the reel, numbering or logging marks evoke all that is not seen in the documentation of history. The images have been put to a piece of music called Kaene byr til engli composed by Johann Johannsson. The music brings to the images an intensity and spiritual dimension revealing the sensual and sublime that is found in the spaces disregarded by the more declarative ways of making sense of the world.

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