Conflict: Antagonism and Creation
Dedicated to Prof. Ami Drach 1963-2012
Issue 26, winter 2012, of the E-Journal History and Theory: the Protocols, is dedicated to the theme of “Conflict: Antagonism and Creation”.
The intellectual engagement with 'Conflict' as a concept in the dual sense of an ideational and experiential model, offers the possibility of locating, analyzing and discussing the tensions, processes and situations that define, locate and often contain art and culture relative to the social, political, historical and every-day. This concept can make manifest the complex intertwining of objects, discursive fields, and artistic and cultural phenomena; situate these in space, time and thought; explain and clarify creative processes; define and/or deconstruct something of the duality theory/practice; and illuminate the tension between art and the sensibility and flexibility that manifests in dialogic relations and “generic interactions”. Of course, relative to these elements, the issue of conflict has a special importance in the Israeli intellectual discourse, which, arising from a place and time that are characterized by schisms, collisions and struggles, is itself significantly ‘conflictual’.
The issue opens with Efrat Hildesheim's article "Guerilla Gardening and the Multitude" (brought in full on the Hebrew side of the Journal) that analyzes, using a complex theoretical prism, the essence and possibility of resistance, and through it that of social-transformative action, as it emerges in the relatively new phenomenon of 'Guerilla Gardening'; a phenomenon that Hildesheim seeks to define.
Chen Mor's and Karina S. Linetsky's article "Housing Spaces in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia: a Textual Journey from Social Construction to Institutional Deconstruction" (brought in full on the Hebrew side of the Journal), is included in the issue as part of a new policy to include selected student articles in every issue, rather than dedicate a single issue every year to Students' work. This article examines texts fron different genres as a socio-political-cultural site, in which are inscribed the operations of ideological dynamics that catalyze processes of construction and deconstruction in urban spaces.
David Goss's article "Planned Ambiguity: a Design Conflict", posits 'design' and 'grotesque' as two human activities between which there is both a formal correlation and an essential tension. Through a discussion of the history of the conflict between the two, Goss develops a critical design language that aims at a complex aesthetic, which is both aware of and relays on this conflict.
Irit Katz's article "No Way Out or what is a Minor Architecture?" (Brought in full on the Hebrew side of the Journal), offers a fascinating and important discussion of the reality of the Palestinian refugee camps in light of Gilles Deleuze's and Félix Guattari's theorization of Minor Literature. This discussion, which establishes a correlation between the everyday 'tactical' uses of the physical space in the refugee camps and the minor use of language, stands in fact in an ironic tension with Israeli reality, and especially with the IDF's operative theory as expressed in operation 'Defensive Shield' that was conducted in 2002, which itself derived – one must say cynically – from Deleuze and Guattari's theorization (c.f. the Hebrew article by the IDF theorist Asaf Hazani in: Hazani, Asaf, The Relation Between Social Processes and the IDF's Theory of Operation, Maarachot 435, p. 18-25).
Nana Ariel's article "'The Art of Making Manifestos': the Fuzzy Borders between Manifestos and Art in the Recent Social Struggle" (brought in full on the Hebrew side of the Journal), presents manifestos as both a 'tactical' tool that expresses and is used to destabilize the borders between consciousness and action ('speech-act') as part of antagonistic discourses and social conflict, and also as hybrid texts that challenge the delimitations that separate political texts from art. These intriguing themes are discussed by Ariel through the textual and visual products of the Israeli popular social demonstrations of the summer of 2011.
Diego Lazzarich's article "Conflict and Creation: The Futurist Paradigm", discusses the emergence, content and historical significance of the iconoclastic-redemptive discourse that was promoted by Marinetti's movement since the appearance of the "Futurist Manifesto" in 1909. Lazzarich's discussion illuminates in a fascinating manner the opposing tension between the Futurist's position vis-à-vis the then dominant liberal discourse, and offers a historical interpretation according to which the influence of the Futurist discourse on the general cultural discourse was so significant that one cannot understand without it, the scale, intensity and totality of WW1, and in fact of WW2 as well. This article can and should be read in conjunction to Ariel's article brought in this issue, as well as relative to the materials gathered in issue 19 of this journal that was dedicated to the Futurist Movements' historical and theoretical influence and significance.
Sharon Ribak's article "The Critique of Historicism and Progress: Walter Benjamin's Ethical-Messianic Time Concept" (brought in full on the Hebrew side of the Journal), offers a complex and sensitive discussion of Walter Benjamin's conceptualization of historical-time, and present moment, in his seminal article "On the Concept of History" (c1940). Ribak's discussion illuminates Benjamin's ambition to redeem the present while contending with powerful antagonistic tensions. It is interesting to the see the complex relation, which arises from the paratactic placement of this article immediately after Lazzarich's, between Benjamin's and Marinetti's ideas.
David Sperber's article "Ambivalent Discourse and the Productive Look in the Work of Ruth Kestenbaum Ben-Dov" (brought in full on the Hebrew side of the Journal), deals with Ruth Kestenbaum Ben-Dov's works as a model of a Jewish feminist art that develops as a marginal discourse. Sperber sees in the artist's treatment of the complex dialogue between Judaism and Islam, and in the tension of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, an opportunity to foreground the hybrid complexity of this marginal field, in which communal, national and gender identities encounter, collide and mix.
Said Sliman's article "The Properties and the Regulation of Conflicts in the Arab Towns Relating to Land Ownership" (brought in full on the Hebrew side of the Journal), deals with the charged political issue of land ownership in the Arab villages within the state of Israel. Using the qualitative methodology of "Thick Description", Sliman seeks to analyze the tensions that arise from the adoption and multiplication of traditional land ownership models, the complex of associated personal interests, and especially the processes of conflict management that emerge between individuals and groups.
Rivka Dvora Mayer's virtual exhibition "A Woman in the Big Cities: Wandering - Traces Around the House - Photographs 1982-2012", offers a fascinating ironic gaze, beautiful and at the same time horrifying, on the urban-public spaces of Tel-Aviv in the past thirty years. In every single one of the works gathered in this exhibition, Mayer's sight foregrounds complex and often disturbing tensions in Israeli reality, in a way that is seemingly completely natural – as if the irony itself is something that is present in every single moment in the reality of the place. It is possible to see the chronological narrative, i.e. the "History", which arises from the relation between the photographs, their respective titles and placement within the exhibition, as an almost inverted theoretical statement to those made in Lazzarich's and Ribak's articles.
Orit Siman-Tov's virtual exhibition "Invisible Conflicts" that is accompanied by a text by Amos Morris-Reich, seeks to constitute an alternative to the iconographic language of conflict situations in which the iconography as functions as a metanarrative that offers an almost immediate meaning. In contrast, the alternative representation deconstructs the readily accessible meaning, by demanding a wondering, lingering sight that attempts to decipher semi-hidden and often irresolvable meanings of conflict situation.
Karin Eliyahu's virtual exhibition "Red Lines", adopts a new aware practice of looking at objects within everyday space. Using what can be termed 'controlled rapid sight movements'; Eliyahu disassociates visual texts from their normative contexts and instead brings forth the chaotic and conflictual.
The virtual exhibition that closes this issue is Ami Drach's and Dov Ganchrow's "BC – AD: a Contemporary Look at Flint Tools". Shortly after this exhibition was accepted for publication, Prof. Ami Drach passed away suddenly from a heart attack (on the 5th of September 20120). Ami, one of the leading industrial designers that worked in Israel in the past decades, finished his studies at Bezalel in 1992, and became a teacher in the department of Industrial Design two years later. He served as the department head in the period 2004-2008, and has brought with him a direct approach to both human beings and design that continues to define the department. At the same time, he developed the department's digital design and fabrication (CAD/CAM) capabilities, while emphasizing the relation between design and craft through, among other things, the creation of a Low-Tech seminar that takes place on a yearly basis in the dead-sea, and in his reinforcing the relation between the present day department and historical departments that existed in Boris Shatz's Bezalel, such as the Department of Weaving.
In 1996, Drach formed together with Dov Ganchrow the experimental and industrial design studio "AMIDOV". Alongside the development and design of industrial products, the studio developed experimental ideas and object, which, amongst other things, question the significance of design as part of culture. Two examples of this appear in the present issue: the issue's frontispiece, which presents a work from the conceptual project "Ballistic Arabesque", and the virtual exhibition that closes this issue. On this exhibition, Prof. Ezri Tarazi – a close friend and colleague of Prof. Drach – wrote the following words:
Ami Drach and Dov Ganchrow choose the stone knife as a generic object for design research that is conducted through creation. The stone remains as it was for hundreds of thousands of years, while research developed new ways of holding it using such novel technologies as three dimensional printing or dipping in flexible materials. The connecting chain between the design past and future of humanity is enfolded into a powerful charismatic object. The new knives make manifest the metaphor of the simple position that sees in the principles and values of design, perpetual categories; for they will always have the 'handle' of the continuous conflict between the functional, symbolic and culture purposes, and the shaping of physical reality relative to an individual uniqueness, and they will always have the 'blade' of technological decipherment and the creation of the new.
The issue's frontispiece presents something of the irony that typifies Drach's and Ganchrow's works, in that the depicted work is in fact a ceramic body-armor made of extremely resilient Alumina tiles that is formed in a way that echoes the arabesque patterns that adorn buildings throughout the Muslim world. The exposure of the tiles – produced in these shapes due to functional reasons only, and their combination on a reinforced door, generates a synthesis between local geographic motifs and an extrinsic industrial product that originates in a functionalist thought, which suddenly appears utterly blind to itself. In this way, the work creates a conceptual meeting point between the ancient arts of engraving and template making and their contemporary equivalents. At the same time, the work treats in a complex and ambivalent way the products and politics of the contemporary military-industrial complex.
The adoption of simplicity as a fundamental value of design shaped Ami Drach's ideas, work and teachings. May he rest in peace,
The issue's editors: Yona Weitz and Na'aman Hirschfeld