The personal and the political, accompanied by a few drinks.
Public Movement is a research and action body spearheaded by Dana Yahalomi. The Israel-based group investigates the creation of national, social, and political identities through public choreographies and the way they are performed in public space. The group, usually in uniform, began by reenacting commemorative ceremonies, formal exercises from the youth scouts, or emergency procedures (life saving exercises, such as rescue from a pile of debris) in public space, in order to illustrate the choreography of collective civilian life and how it is ingrained in the cultural fabric. Not shying away from conflict, Public Movement tailors its works—or actions, as they call them—to specific social and geographic contexts, creating temporary zones of discomfort, arenas in which viewers are meant to feel ill at ease and react to a catalyst.
Public Movement came to international attention with their participation in the 2012 New Museum Triennial that showcased SALONS: Birthright Palestine?, a series of performative public debates staged as congressional sessions, summit meetings, visioning sessions, diplomatic consultations, secret gatherings, and demonstrations. The salons focused on Birthright Israel, the sponsored trips to Israel for Jewish youth, as a model through which to explore Israel’s relationship to the American Jewish diaspora and the right of return, and, by extension, to consider Palestinian diaspora and nationhood by asking what a Birthright Palestine could be. Similar tactics of choreographed public debates were deployed for Rebranding European Muslims at the 7th Berlin Biennial, and at the Steirischer Herbst festival, in Austria, for which marketing firms pitched campaigns to improve the public image of Muslims in Europe.
I met Yahalomi at a Tel Aviv bar and got her a little drunk while probing about her service in the Israeli army as a psychological profiler; her reorganization of Public Movement, after the co-founder of the group left; the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel; and her recent and upcoming projects.
[ Read More ]