Eric Van Hove

– Common Ground – abandoned Great Synagogue of Wolmarans Street, Johannesburg, South Africa

This text is by Eric van Hove and is quoted from his webiste.You can see it in its orginal form here.

“If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished”. Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel, Haaretz.com, 29th November 2007.

“I learnt all the words worthy of the court of blood So that I could break the rule. I learnt all the words and broke them up To make a single word: Homeland”. Mahmoud Darwish, excerpt from I come from there.

“Palestinians in East Jerusalem, often the city of their birth, are not considered citizens but immigrants with “permanent resident” status, which, some have found, is anything but permanent. In the old South Africa, a large part of the black population was treated not as citizens of the cities and townships they were born into but of a distant homeland many had never visited. Israel treats Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem as immigrants, who live in their homes at the beneficence of the authorities and not by right,” says B’Tselem. “The authorities maintain this policy although these Palestinians were born in Jerusalem, lived in the city and have no other home. Treating these Palestinians as foreigners who entered Israel is astonishing, since it was Israel that entered East Jerusalem in 1967.” Chris McGreal, World’s apart, The Guardian, 6th February 2006.

“Israeli governments reserved 93% of the land – often expropriated from Arabs without compensation – for Jews through state ownership, the Jewish National Fund and the Israeli Lands Authority. In colonial and then apartheid South Africa, 87% of the land was reserved for whites. The Population Registration Act categorised South Africans according to an array of racial definitions, which, among other things, determined who would be permitted to live on the reserved land. Israel’s Population Registry Act serves a similar purpose by distinguishing between nationality and citizenship. Arabs and Jews alike can be citizens, but each is assigned a separate “nationality” marked on identity cards (either spelled out or, more recently, in a numeric code), in effect determining where they are permitted to live, access to some government welfare programmes, and how they are likely to be treated by civil servants and policemen.” Chris McGreal, World’s apart, The Guardian, 6th February 2006.

This work relates to the various and complex historic interrelations and contemporary analogies that exists between Apartheid South Africa and the State of Israel. It is based on various sources, chiefly two well-written texts titled Worlds apart and Brothers in arms – Israel’s secret pact with Pretoria by Chris McGreal, published in The Guardian in 2006, echoed by Idith Zertal’s “Lords of the Land” (2007). It is staged in the abandoned Great Synagogue of Wolmarans Street in Johannesburg, built in the late 19th century along the designs of the Haggia Sofia Church, an icon of Byzantium. I am reminded of the passages in Edward Said’s book Freud and the Non-European where he suggests that Jews and Palestinians might find commonality in their shared history of exile and dispossession, and that diaspora could become the basis of a common polity in the Middle East. Diaspora, homeland and bantustan, occupied territories, abandonment, stateless, refugees, exiles, expatriates and immigrants… Considering what seem at the crossing of terminology and topology, where lies and viewpoints often serves as self-deluding wordplays, the intervention is intended as a proof by contradiction, an apagogical argument taking the form of a list of synonyms of synonyms spanning from the word “dispossession”. Using white chalk, I wrote that Reductio ad absurdum on the dark wooden floor of the deserted Synagogue, as a prayer to an abandoned authority, or a call to forsaken good-sense and forlorn sound judgment. The written list can be accessed here. If a house of religion is a place where one faces one’s truth, an abandoned house of religion is perhaps a place where one confronts one’s abandoned truth. It resulted in a silent 16:9 film of 74′. It was projected for the first time in the abandonned shooting range situated under the historic monument of the Drill Hall, formely a large open field known as the “Union Grounds” and used for military manoeuvres, where were imprisonned for High-treason Nelson Mandela and the 155 other leaders of the anti-apartheid liberation mouvement of the Congress Alliance between 1956 and 1961, in what was one of the most important trial of the twentieth century, intrumental in abolishing apartheid.

This work is realised as part of the 4th Urban Scenographies, with support from Wallonia Brussels International.

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One Response to “Eric Van Hove”

  1. […] Eric Van Hove […]

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