Art Palestine International is a New York-based cultural organization dedicated to Palestinian contemporary art. We collaborate with museums, galleries, and non-profits to produce art exhibitions, events, and publications.

This blog is a research tool that allows us to chart our research and invite others along on the journey.

Content RSS

Route 181, and Documentary Criticism

I’ve just returned from a trip to Australia, which explains why I haven’t been posting for the past week. While I was there a colleague recommended that I watch a film called Route 181 (2004, dir. Michael Khleifi and Eyal Sivan). Now I can’t seem to find it – anyone know where I can get a DVD? Email us.

In 2006, Cabinet Magazine reprinted the transcript of a court case relating to the film. The case seems to have been filed by Sivan (an Israeli Jew) after a French critic (also Jewish) called him an anti-semite. It basically becomes an argument about the line between cultural critique and personal attack, and an argument about how to critique documentary:

Comte: Can a documentary be criticized for not being totally objective?

Dayan: No, everyone knows that the reality shown onscreen has little to do with reality. In the case of documentaries that deal with writing and formulating history, however, the viewer has the right to demand a minimum of information to understand the complexity of reality and not a document that is blind to it.

The issue is, should documentary work should be critiqued based on its truth value or its aesthetic value? Read the full transcript here.

Interestingly, this ties in with the critical response to Emily Jacir’s show at the Guggenheim, which has heavily focused on the historical truth of her work. It has prompted New York’s art critics to weigh in on the hairy historical issue of whether her subject, Wael Zuaiter, was connected to the Munich attacks in 1972.