In partnership with Phoenix Brighton, Brighton Photo Fringe presented its keynote exhibition, the OPEN16 SOLO, ‘Encountering Perforated Ground’ by Dana Ariel, who was selected from an international open call.
In these stunning landscapes, that have been meticulously hand printed by Ariel, traces of past activities overlay and stain the ground, remaining invisible and concealed, as they tell a story of political erasure and displacement. The selected images were taken in Israel and Palestine between 2014 -2016. During this time, Ariel visited the Palestinian village of Fasa’il and the illegal Jewish settlement of Peza’el, both with the same name; one in Hebrew, the other in Arabic. They are found in the occupied territories of the West Bank, the border between Israel and Jordan, that Ariel refers to as “perforated ground”. The two sites are not directly represented in the exhibition, but rather bind the works together in their absence. Works made in this project were informed by the journey to these sites, “they are the stain and shadow of the search” writes Ariel.
The ongoing conflict over land and narrative leave its traces in the landscape, as it transforms to a crisis of seeing. Borders, fire zones, observation posts, military bases, barriers, fences, settlements and villages are being constantly transformed, blurred, erased and displaced. ‘Knowing’ the land, requires constant observation. “Upon my visits, I am repeatedly reminded that while I hold a camera in my hand, I am also constantly observed by both sides of the conflict” writes Ariel. The sites represent a paradox of seeing, in which seeing immediately invites unseeing, both visually and politically. Edge-lands, perforated ground, disputed territory, and sites on the border are where militarisation and play intertwine. These sites could be seen as non-sites; abandoned, forgotten, buried or blurred. In the midst of the erasure process, Ariel encounters the extraordinary, the unbelievable and record its traces with the use of photography, print and words.