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The Use of Humor in Israeli and Palestinian Video Art: A Case Study on Two Artists


The subjects of land, nations and borders are often intertwined with the topics of identity, conflict, and historical narrative. Over the years, many visual and performance artists have created work to subvert the racial, political and cultural divisions that have acted as barriers among peoples living in Israel-Palestine. Their works tell narratives; they paint pictures of their daily lives while also reflecting the culture and politics of the region. My research examines the video work of two contemporary Israeli and Palestinian artists, Tamir Zadok and Sharif Waked. Taking these artists as a case study, this paper will investigate the mechanism of humor in the works to reflect upon both the absurd aspects of the conflict as well as the collective traumas of Israeli and Palestinian societies. Specifically, I will use their works to explore how their respective use of satire functions as a means of confronting the relationship between occupier and occupied in border crossings, as well as the rhetoric and the mechanisms involved in the construction of national narratives and propaganda.

Keywords: Sharif Waked, Tamir Zadok, Video Art, Humor, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

This essay was published in Migration Processes and Artistic Practices in Wartime: From the Twentieth Century to the Present, edited by Cristina Pratas Cruzeiro for the Artistic Studies Research Centre's 2018 Global Art Monograph Series at the University of Lisbon, Portugal.

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