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, and are sometimes violated when conflicting with geopolitical 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 central characters in Barakeh's animations are the colonizing Centaur, a fusion of a male human head and torso with a horse's lower body, and the Horse, an avatar with the artist's body and a horse head, representing colonized subjects and embodying agency and resistance. The origin of the colonizing Centaur traces back to a 1933 archival image captured in Jaffa Square, illustrating mounted British Mandate soldiers confronting Arab demonstrators. The photograph's inherent graininess effectively merges the horse and its British rider, inspiring the conceptualization of the Centaur as a potent symbol of colonization within Barakeh's artistic narrative.
Holy Land, 2019; grid of six archival inkjet prints; 51 x 174 inches (installation); 24 x 50 inches (each print).