WE* CALL IT DISNEYLAND
„We* call it Disneyland“ ist a journey to different places in Israel where Zionist ideas get visible. Places where the jewish state inscribes itself into the landscape. Places where urban planning ideals become evident. Places where history is imparted. The project talks about appropriation of a landscape and its history with its positive and its negative sides. I am combining pictures of the national borders of Israel, of reforestation projects, nature parks, archeological sites and other places of conveying history, details from archival portraits from the 1930s and 40s and pictures from houses in jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories. In the course of this I am connecting the beginnings of the state of Israel with the political situation today. At the same time I am highlighting that all these places and identity-establishing ideas are mutually dependent. The selection of places is subjective and without any claim of comprehensivness. This subjectivity is supported by personal notes. There are experiences, situations and thoughts which illustrate in a playful way my movement through the country. The title „We* call it Disneyland“ points out the constructedness of the national state of Israel and by implication the artifciality of every national state in the world. It is a reminder, that the human writes its history and not the history the human, not only in Israel but everywhere.
„We* call it Disneyland“ combines seven photo series to one body of work, considering the questions of how the jewish people visually shaped the territory of palestine and which cultural approaches stand behind it.
The photographs are dealing with a variety of places and topics. There are pictures of the Tel Aviv part in the miniature park „Mini Israel“, colourful lighted stone walls in the archeological site „City of David“, trees supported by watering systems in a desert Kibbutz, idealised pictures of animals in different national parks, one of the biggest reforested areas in the world, details of archival footage from the 1930s and 1940s, „touristic snapshots“ in different places, buildings in jewish settlements in the occupied territories, the gravesite of Ben Gurion and classical landscape photographs of the political borders of Israel.
All these places and themes refer to perceptions of history and/or origin, which are shaping the present of the nation. Israel justifies its actions often with the biblical times, relying on the period of the First and Second Temple. These actions may appear in mimicking a biblical landscape through reforestation as well as in the tolerance or even support of settlements in the occupied territories.
Shaping the view on history in a certain way to justify the actions of the present happens within every nation in the world and is principally not a bad thing. But in my opinion it is important to question the approach on history and culture again and again. On one hand there is the idea of a continuity from the biblical chosen people to the modern democracy of Israel, while on the other hand there are very european approaches of for example architecture and a heroic conception of man in the founding years of the state. These phenomenons have their roots more likely in russian socialism and european nationalism than in biblical times.
Maybe it appears odd, working on this topic in Israel as a native german, but it has a very simple explanation: the view of the foreigner. The first time in my life I literally saw how politics shape a landscape was not in Europe, but in Israel. The reason for this obviousness could be, that the jewish community in Palestine was a minority for almost 2000 years. With the immigration of mainly Russian and European Jews in the end of the 19th century a process of settlement started, but also a process of taking the country in a cultural way, a process of shaping the land to demonstrate historical belonging.