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In and Out of the Box: Bashir Makhoul's Forbidden City

Lookup NU author(s): Dr John Beck


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Bashir Makhoul’s Beijing installation Enter Ghost Exit Ghost is a maze made out of lenticular images of a Palestinian village that leads to a stack of cardboard boxes that could be a town, a military training camp, or just a heap of damaged packing containers. This article reads the installation through an initial misrecognition, seeing the boxes as a version of ancient Anasazi cliff dwellings. This displacement, where one place recalls somewhere else, is pursued through a discussion of W.J.T. Mitchell’s reflections on comparative ‘promised lands’, Israeli artist Larry Abramson’s notion of abstraction as camouflage, Eyal Weizman’s analysis of simulated battle-spaces, and Mark Twain’s critical reading of desert spaces in the Western US and Palestine. The article argues that Makhoul’s work calls up a series of associations between times and places that speaks not only to the specific (Israel/Palestine) but to a broader global hermeneutics of empire based on symbolic overdetermination and strategic concealment and erasure.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Beck J

Publication type: Article

Journal: Theory, Culture & Society

Year: 2012

ISSN (print): 0263-2764

ISSN (electronic): 1460-3616

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


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