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Performing the Green Line:

Identity and Spatial Politics in the Work of Sharif Waked, Ariane Littman and Francis Alÿs


In her book, Atlas of Remote Islands (2010), Judith Schalansky notes that “every map is the result and exercise of colonial violence.” In mapping a place, cartographers are given the power to shape territory, delineate borders and render the line of a pencil as impermeable and enduring as a national border. In November 1949, Jerusalem was divided in two, based on lines drawn by Moshe Dayan and Abdullah al-Tal, representatives of the Israeli forces, and the Arab legion and other forces in the Jerusalem area. It was Dayan’s line, which would later become the emblematic Green Line delineating East from West Jerusalem, and the greater partition demarcating Israel’s national border. Drawn in wax crayons on a Mandatory 1:20,000 scale map, the lines sketched were not intended to establish a fixed border. Representing strips of land 60 to 80 meters in width, Dayan’s drafted line prompted the question of “who owned the ‘width of the line’?”


This paper examines the work of three performative artists, Sharif Waked, Ariane Littman and Francis Alÿs, whose practices engage the Green Line and reflect on both imaginary and concrete architectures of separation within Israel/Palestine. Through an analysis of their works, I address how each artist navigates, engages and challenges this militarized border through their performative interventions. I further consider how their respective backgrounds—and positioning as a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, Israeli Jew, and recognized Belgian artist—influence their ability to critique the inherent violence within the structures used to maintain borders in Israel/Palestine.

Presented at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Association for Israel Studies, Kinneret College, Israel 


Images and Realities: Land of Promise to Startup Nation?

 June 24-26, 2019

Photography, Drawing and Painting a Contested Land
Chair: Inbal Ben-Asher Gitler, Sapir College and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Edna Barromi Perlman, Kibbutzim College of Education
Is this Land Mine? What Should it Look Like? Landscape Photography in Palestine and Israel

Yaron Shemer, University of North Carolina
Srulik and Handala: The National Cartoon Figures of Israel and Palestine

Luna Goldberg, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Performing the Green Line: Identity and Spatial Politics in the Work of Sharif Waked, Ariane Littman and Francis Alÿs

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