The Emergence of the Swiss Roof in the Holy Land: Politicized Readings of Gal Weinstein’s 2017 Roof at the 25th International Biennial of Sao Paulo

ABSTRACT

In 2002, Gal Weinstein was selected to represent Israel at the 25th International Biennial of Sao Paulo. For the Biennial, Weinstein built a large tiled roof that was laid on the floor and extended beyond the exhibition hall, whose floor-to-ceiling glass window cut through the piece. The work acted as a means of criticizing the pastoral fantasy of Zionist settlement, and its refusal to acknowledge “the climatic, geopolitical and cultural realm in which it” exists.[1] Yet upon opening at the Biennial, the work was quickly perceived as representative of Israel’s aggressive settlement policy.

 

Taking Weinstein’s Roof as a case study, this paper focuses on the aesthetic and potential political readings which unfold through the installation of the Swiss roof, an architectural element which came to symbolize and represent political tensions, and their emergence beyond the site they are ingrained in. Specifically, I trace the politicization of the architectural element as it first emerged in the constructions of European colonizers of pre-state Israel, resurfaced during the first wave of Jewish immigration, and was later adopted by Jewish settlers in the Occupied Territories to distinguish themselves from Arab towns and villages. By examining the shifting function of the roof and its transformation from a symbol of European colonialism to one of Israeli imperialism, this paper considers differing interpretations the work provoked.

[1] Tamir, Tali. Roof (The Space Underneath). 2002.

Presented at the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Israel Studies, "A Century After Balfour: Vision and Reality," Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

 June 12-14, 2017

Imagining Zion

Chair: Luna Goldberg, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

 

Luna Goldberg, School of the Art Institute of Chicago        

The Emergence of the Swiss Roof in the Holy Land: Politicized Readings of Gal Weinstein`s Roof at the 25th International Biennial of Sao Paulo

 

Dina Roginsky, Yale University

Man and Nature in Kibbutz Ceremonies: Biblical, Palestinian and German influences

 

Marc Volovici, Princeton University

What was “Kongressdeutsch”? On Language Problems in the Zionist Congress

Luna 
Goldberg