[iDC] Questions concerning art, territory, and geopolitics

J Rabie joe at overmydeadbody.org
Thu Dec 29 09:59:28 EST 2005

The different projects spoken about here concerning territoriality 
bring up a double political question:
Are they unavoidably "political" projects?
Are those works which vehicule political intentions or convictions 
capable of influencing their political and social context?

Internet coupled with GPS mapping are creating a whole new genre of art 
practice. How successful are these projects in forwarding the political 
agenda they profess to advance? Or, though this work may be 
conceptually and intellectually valuable, do they remain on the margins 
of the workings of the world, appreciated only by those few members of 
the art community who can (1) access them and (2) are willing to take 
the time necessary to consult and understand them, since they are often 
works which are not immediately self-evident.

Territorial works have a long history. As an example, Christo's work, 
which even when they rap up political institutions like the Reichstag 
clamour their apolitical nature. But declaring being apolitical is a 
political statement in itself, particularly for work which demands 
large scale organisation, work teams, conceptual statements, media 
planning, business planning, like Christo's projects do.

And if Christo's Running Fence across the California hilltops used to 
seem to me a lovely poetic caress of landscape, today it has become 
just a little bit sinister through its recuperation by a more recent 
practitioner: Ariel Sharon - though he uses different media and tools 
(thank you, Caterpillar) - with his smooth concrete wall running 
through the olive groves and neighbourhoods of occupied Palestine.

And Sharon is now being challenged by a new practitioner, who has a PhD 
in traffic planning, with the stated ambition for realising a 
pan-Islamic roadmap - one imagines four lanes, cloverleafs, toll 
booths, gas stations, all the way from Morocco on the Atlantic to 
Malaysia on the Pacific. Our man is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of 
Iran, who insists on Israel being wiped out - a blot in the middle of 
his vision of a pure, Islamic world, especially since his freeway is 
obliged to pass through there - and also expresses the right for Iran 
to develop a nuclear arsenal.

Sharon, who is running for reelection, knows, like any right-wing 
politician, that military issues are key to electoral success. Thus 
there is already speculation that he will "take out" Iran's nuclear 
installations, like Menahem Begin did with Irak's Osiris reactor in 

America's bombing of Iraki installations, particularly during the first 
Gulf War, demonstrated the limits of conventional weapons against 
heavily armoured, reinforced concrete installations. One should 
remember how, after a few days of bombing, there were claims that 
Irak's military infrastructure had been destroyed: after the war, the 
weapons inspectors found them largely intact.

Sharon's mentor, George Bush, has means of which Sharon can only dream. 
And he is a practitioner eager to take on Iran, second on the 
"Evil-Axis" list. Also, Bush's nuclear doctrine has deviated from 
deterrence to pre-emptive nuclear strikes. Would he nuke Iran's 
installations, and thus transform the global landscape irrevocably?

Happy New Year, folks!

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