Sunday, April 15, 2007

The "Village"

[Image: In his large-format light box, Yaron Leshem undermines our assumptions about the veracity of a landscape photograph. This panorama initially appears to be a benevolent view of an Arab village nestled in a hillside. Only when observed from close up does the photograph reveal that it is a three-dimensional simulation of an Arab village down to the fake building facade paintings of a nargila-smoking older man and a young man with a backpack running through a narrow street. The village seen here was built by the Israeli Defense Force in order to prepare soldiers to fight in Palestinian villages, and during his military service Leshem trained in sham villages such as this. Village is composed of fifty digital photographs, merged seamlessly into a single image. Here, we see that a seemingly innocent rural scene can hide a far different reality—a location that was carefully chosen by the Israeli Military to enact full-scale war exercises.
Artist: Yaron Leshem, Village, 2004 (full panorama here), as featured in the exhibition Dateline Israel: New Photography and Video Art, showing at the Jewish Museum, March 10, 2007 - August 05, 2007. You can also read a critique of the show in the New York Times.]


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