A collection of ten aerial images from the Bavarian State Archive, marked by the name (Küstenebene-File 10- Gaza-Beerseba “bir es-seba”), were taken between September 1917 and September 1918 during reconnaissance flights by the Bavarian Air Squadron as part of the operations of the German-Turkish Alliance. They systematically document the stretch of land between Gaza and al-Majdal, including the later destroyed villages of ‘Iraq al-Manshiyya, Bayt Jirja, al-Jiyya, Barbara, and al-Majdal.
The aerial reconnaissance photographs that were taken during scout operations served the Germans for tactical and surveillance ends, likewise the successive colonial regimes in Palestine. They have become a tool for the study of the urban landscape and infrastructure of Palestine at the end of the Ottoman period.
For this special issue of the Jerusalem Quarterly, ten artists were invited to work with these images and make an intervention through imagining the process of photographing and capturing these images from the sky. The artists were asked to respond to the following questions while thinking about their artistic intervention: Did the pilot receive orders to capture this image via radio communication? What was the dispatch? What was the pilot thinking at the moment of capturing the image, coming from a European culture and photographing the “holy” landscape of Palestine? What did the pilot see beyond the frame of the photograph? How can we interpret these images beyond their military objectives? Can the artist impersonate the pilot while relating to a more contemporary experience? How does the same image look today via satellite?
Shada Safadi on Gaza City
1799-1918. Plexiglass, collage. 25 x 25 cm, 2019. “I have a strange feeling now as I leave the city, as if I am leaving a closed space ... I will look down for the last time.”
From a pilot’s diary (text by aritist)
Jack Persekian on Gaza City
Gaza Aerial View, 1918–2019. 2019
Amer Shomali on ‘Iraq al-Manshiyya
Proskynetarion “topography of the holy land,” 2019
Ala Younis on Dayr Esned
Al-Labbad opens his eyes with astonishment. Here is a drawing of the land on which he imagines a landing, cut through by an aerial image of Dayr Esned repositioned as the windscreen of its shooting pilot
Khaled Hourani on al-Jiyya
Eyewitness, Video al-Jayyeh, Haj Mohamad al-Sahar
Mahdi Baraghiti on Bayt Jirja
Graphic collage, 2019.
Text: Journal Palestine Exploration Quarterly vol. 21, 4 (1889)
Essa Grayeb on Barbara
Artist/Photographer/Pilot, 2019. Scanning of manipulated images with text and hand drawings (photo essay in progress)
Noor Abed on al-Majdal
Transcribed Encounters with Three Psychic Picture Readers in Dakar, Senegal, 2019.
Oraib Toukan on al-Jiyya
The Pleasure of a Certain Distance, 2019. Drawing on laser, paper, ink, oil pastel, metal leaf
Shuruq Harb on al-Majdal
Undress the Letter Un-render the Script, 2019