On the Optics of Mount Scopus

two-channel video, 22:30

two minutes excerpt

On the Optics of Mount Scopus presents an imaginary commencement speech at the theater of the Hebrew University Mount Scopus Campus. Since the inauguration of the Hebrew University’s campus on the top of Mount Scopus in 1925, the theater and its scenery have been the backdrop of major events in the history of Zionism and Israel. Since 1990 it has also been the scenery looked upon by the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, ever since it moved to its new Mount Scopus campus. This landscape has been a subject of numerous paintings and photographs throughout the last century, and their number greatly increased since Bezalel’s relocation to the site.
The repeated subjection of the landscape as an artistic subject has been just one of the excuses made by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority in creating the Mount Scopus Slopes National Park. The National Park is part of a chain of parks surrounding Jerusalem, that have been purposely designed to limit the expansion of Palestinian neighborhoods and to deny Palestinian livelihood in the city.

The video work is an exploration of the history of photography at the site, using a three-dimensional model to reconstruct the theater as a photographic apparatus and to discuss the role of landscape image-making in the context of the Zionist colonial project as a whole.

Installation views from A Bruising Gaze on a Faltering Landscape, w/ Katherine Reynolds, Block Museum of Art, Evanston, Illinois, 2021