Senior Thesis

For my thesis, I both published an artists' book and wrote an academic paper. My thesis aims to better understand a series of questions concerning Jewish identity, myth-making, memory, and nationalism in relation to Israel-Palestine.

 

 

State of Exception, 2015

State of Exception is an artist publication about the conflations and connections between personal and collective identity, memory, and politics regarding Palestinian- and Jewish-Americans. The publication links together transcribed interviews, written stories, timelines, topography, quotations, and propaganda. Through interviews and family narratives, the artist hopes to add new perspectives to the narrow and stereotypical discourse that represents Palestinians and Jews in the diaspora.

Books are available at Printed Matter

 

 

On Jewish Nationalism

The first chapter of my thesis uses theories around nationalism, nation building, and national identity formation to discuss Israel's constructed myths of heroism, victimhood, and martyrdom. It starts by tracing Jewish history in Europe, using Hannah Arendt's writings as a framework to discuss assimilation, persecution, and exile. I then apply theories from Benedict Anderson's "Imagined Communities" and related writings from Etienne Balibar to examine Israel as the Jewish State. This includes discussion of the construction of an "other" - Arab in this case - to the new Israeli identity. I conclude by using scholars Alon Confino, Aleida Assmann, James Young, and Tina Wasserman to discuss the role memory and trauma play in Israel's image and behavior.

The second chapter is a literary analysis of the epic film, Exodus (1960), detailing its importance in influencing the political and historical framework through which Americans and Jewish-Americans view Israel. I also compare Exodus (1960) to a contemporary cinematic interpretation of Israel’s foundational story, Amos Gitai’s Kedma (2002). Through this comparison, I examine numerous conflicting narratives concerning nationalism and identity in Israel over the last half century. My own analysis shares and develops many ideas from Rachel Weissbrod's essay “‘Exodus’ as Zionist Melodrama,” but where Weissbrod focuses on the melodramatic qualities of Exodus (1960), I ground my argument in theories of national mythopoeia. 

 

 

State of Exception, Multi-Channel Sound Installation, 2015

As a part of our Senior Thesis exhibition, Strategic Plan 2025, I created a sound installation using a selection of audio interviews recorded during the production of my artists' book, State of Exception. The installation operated from a patch created from the visual programming software, Max. The patch programmed sixteen audio files to play at random selection through four speakers.

 

 

Library Installation

For our Senior Thesis exhibition, Strategic Plan 2025, those of us in gallery space A304 created a library to house our books and provide a space for visitors to sit, relax, read, and discuss.