Holy Land combines stills from Barakeh’s animations Homeland Insecurity and Slam Bang Blue with selected passages from the United States’ Department of Defense Law of War Manual. The text selections include ethically contested definitions used during war. These operate within a gray zone, sometimes violated, sometimes used to justify the United States’ military and economic interests abroad, while sometimes deliberately ignored when it’s an ally’s violations that ultimately advance American interests. Definitions focus on military occupation; rules in conducting attacks; lawful weapons; treatment of detainees; interrogation techniques restrictions; and the relationship between the principles of humanity, military necessity, and military objectives.
The main characters are the colonizing Centaur–a male human head and torso with a lower body of a horse–based on the mounted soldiers of the British Mandate of Palestine (1920–1948); and the Horse, an avatar of the artist’s own body with the head of a horse, depicting colonized subjects and embodying agency and resistance.
Holy Land, 2019; grid of six archival inkjet prints; 51 x 174 inches (installation); 24 x 50 inches (each print).