Underground Prisoners Museum, Jerusalem
ZAZ Festival, Israel
The Underground Prisoners Museum is located in a former
hostel for Russian pilgrims – a monumental stone building constructed in
the 1860s as part of the Russian Compound. During the British Mandate
in Palestine (1917–1948), the hostel was used as the central
British prison, where criminal prisoners were jailed alongside hundreds
of members of the Jewish underground movements. In 1991, the building
was given to the Israeli Ministry of Defense, which reconstructed the
prison and transformed it into a museum. In recent years, the museum
was used for various art events, including the international art biennial
Art Focus 4 (2004).
The artist occupied the inside of the “Press” cell
at the Underground Prisoners Museum, Jerusalem, stood behind a
large television screen. Behind this screen was a camera on a tripod.
This camera sent a live feed of still images to the television.
Outside the bars of the prison room from where the audience looked
in, there was a square marked out on the ground with red tape. While
in the prison cell the artist invited passing audience members to individually
stand in this square. Once positioned in the square the artist framed
an image of the audience member standing in the square on video, inclusive
of the prison bars. The stilled image appeared on the television screen inside the cell.
The audience members were “doubly imprisoned” as in the
images they appeared as though they were imprisoned behind bars, while equally their image was obtained by the
artist and held on screen inside the prison cell.
Punning on the word “Capture” the performance playfully
reverts the submissive role of the imprisoned artist from “being
captured” to becoming “capturer” through the use
of media. In the performance she turned the
passive spectator into the spectacle, enslaved by media.