the fear series: offering
Installation, buttons and video loop projections, 2003
Curated by Vid Inglevic as part of the DIG/DUG exhibition at the Koffler Gallery in 2003
May 15 – July 13, 2003
Offering consists of hundreds of buttons that state, though imperceptibly, ‘i am full of fear’. As well, larger buttons, though fewer in numbers, but also in muted voices state ‘Jews against the Occupation’. The video is projected onto these buttons, in a circle shape, an image shot at the BJCC (Bathurst Jewish Community Centre) pool of a woman treading water, a very unstable and blurry representation. This site specific work responds to the locale at which the Koffler Gallery was housed.
The second component of Offering is a container that holds both buttons and offers them for sale, $1 for ‘i am full of fear’ and $2 for ‘Jews against the Occupation’, providing a challenge to those who dare.
Entering the site of DIG/DUG, The Bathurst Jewish Community Centre, always initiates great ambivalence in me. Rather than consider the physical architecture, I have been more interested in the emotional and political underpinnings, a different architecture. The Centre claims me, and yet does not adequately represent my, and many other Jews’ perspectives or heritage, be they Sephardi or Mizrahi identities, or critical perspectives on the government of Israel’s actions in the Occupied Territories. The best example, on entry into the BJCC building, are the buttons for sale at the Information desk and at the Second Cup coffee shop: ‘Support Israel, Now more than Ever’ or ‘Fight Terrorism, Support Israel’.
What does it mean to wear a button? What do these buttons not speak? What at the BJCC cannot be spoken? And what may need to be articulated, spoken, whispered, along side other political possibilities?
Buttons that declare opposition to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, or support for Palestinian autonomy or for peace between Palestinians and Israelis have been sites of struggles. The attempted boycott of the Toronto Women’s Bookstore, is one example, sparked by a controversy over the buttons they carried which stated opposition to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, or desire for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, or support for Palestinian right of return.
At counter demos on Israel Day or March for Israel, in which a number of us hold signs such as ‘End the Israeli Occupation’ or ‘We Refuse to be Enemies’, we hear many calls of ‘shame’; but we also have had a number of Jews who participate in the march come up to say “Thanks for being here” or “I support you”. Are these voices also heard by the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Bnai Brith or at the BJCC?
This piece speaks to what cannot be spoken. And sometimes what cannot also be identified.
I would like to thank the following people for their contribution to the process of developing this piece through discussion and feedback: Wendy Coburn, Vid Ingelevics, Ellen Flanders, Simon Glass, AdamBrickell, and Carolyn Bell-Farrell. As well, Shlomit Segal, for the design of the ‘Jews against the Occupation’ button. Thanks to Brad Johnson and Colleen…..for technical assistance.