A floating 'separation wall' in Tel Aviv
Israeli artist Shelly Federman created this curious structure that resembles the West Bank separation wall... Except that it's made of Styrofoam and can be used as a floating mattress. Read more and see the photos...
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Israeli artist Shelly Federman created this curious structure that resembles the West Bank separation wall... Except that it's made of Styrofoam and can be used as a floating mattress.
Federman's "Floating Wall" exhibit was filmed on the beach at Tel Aviv and set up as a video exhibit at the Art TLV biennial, a three-week-long happening that took place in Tel Aviv in September. The controversial piece, intended to draw attention to the "complex realities of life in Israel", was a centerpiece for the city's art show. Federman told FRANCE 24 what inspired her to create the wall, and how her fellow Israelis reacted to the exhibit.
Photos by Shelly Federman
"Everyone at the beach identified it as the separation wall - it's our collective unconscious"
Shelly Federman is an Israeli contemporary artist. She lives in Tel Aviv.
I conceived this piece as a clear denunciation of the Israeli separation wall. I wanted to stress the fact that, in Israel, the possibility of being able to relax on the beach comes at the price of another people's suffering. It's addressed mainly to an Israeli public: to live a carefree life, people have to forget about the other side - the exhibit was a reminder of the high price of their fun on the beach.
We set up the wall for one day on the beach at Tel Aviv, just long enough to shoot footage for the video exhibit. I didn't have official authorisation, so I half expected us to be thrown out, but we weren't. I set up the wall at the end of the beach, at the border with the Arab neighbourhood of Jaffa, to spark as many reactions as possible. One thing was very surprising: absolutely everyone identified it with the separation wall. Even though it's a very simple structure and could be any cement construction, the wall immediately sprang to people's minds - it's rooted too firmly in our collective unconscious.
Curiously, Israeli Arabs were much more comfortable with the wall than Israeli Jews: they asked to play with them, to go in the water with them. Jews were very uncomfortable. The day after the exhibit started, there were several articles about the piece in Israeli media. There were hundreds of reactions online, and some were very nasty. The truth is, Israelis have grown too comfortable with the wall, because it has in fact helped, in terms of internal security. They just don't want to think about it too much.
At the Tel Aviv art show, I intentionally laid the blocks down next to the video exhibit. People were tempted to lie on them, children played on them, but at the same time it was a disturbing image, which generated conflicting feelings. Some women walked on the wall with their stiletto heels, thinking it was made of concrete. It made holes that looked just like bullet holes, making the piece even more realistic."