Monday, March 30, 2015


I stumbled across a story from last November on Israeli "artists" who defecated on the Israeli flag and bring to you excerpts (no link as lots of NFSW there but the determined can locate it):-

We Spoke to the Artists Who Got in Trouble for Pooping on the Israeli Flag

On July 7, Israeli performance artists Jasman Wagner and Natali Cohen Vaxberg uploaded a video of themselves to Vimeo titled ​Shit Instead of Blood. In the clip, they drop steaming deuces onto dozens of flags from countries around the world, a scatalogical spectacle soundtracked by Frédéric Chopin's "Grande Valse Brillante." In addition to the three-minute montage, they also uploaded individual videos of them defecating on each flag with the country's corresponding national anthem playing in the background.

At first, the compilation video didn't gain much attention. It wasn't until this fall that the video started to rack up views thanks to the the Shadow, a right-wing internet personality who later filed a complaint about the video with the Israeli police, who subsequently arrested Vaxberg for defiling a national symbol. Vaxberg was placed under house arrest for 30 days, during which time she wasn't allowed to use WiFi. (Wagner got off scot-free because she is currently living in Berlin, where artists pooping on things isn't that out of the ordinary.)

Last week, I spoke to Vaxberg over her friend's phone and Skyped with Wagner, who explained that their project was political art without any specific country as a target. "It's about broad anti-nationalism," they agreed. "Don't take these symbols, these flags, seriously," added Vaxberg. "We took a crap on the Palestinian flag, the Israeli flag—all of them."

...​Jasman Wagner: It was Natali's idea. But somebody had to do it. It hadn't been done before. 

So why did only Natali get arrested and not you?First of all, we divided the flags up between us. She was doing the Israel flag, I was doing the Palestinian flag—but, of course, both of us stand behind every shit. 

...So how did you and Natali do this project together if you live in different countries?​We started working on art together at the Experimental School in Jerusalem, but this project began just before Natali came to visit Berlin. She was invited for a festival—she's an actress, playwright, and poet. She was happy she could visit me because I've lived in Berlin for four years. Before her visit, she told me about an idea where we'd shit on all the flags around the world. So I just started storming the shops and collecting flags.

...If your goal is to criticize nationalism broadly, do you think you succeeded?​I think there was an experimental goal. We said, If we shit on all the flags of the world, in Israel, they will write that we shit only on Israel's flag. And that happened. They wrote only about the specific video of the Israel flag. 

It's interesting that your experiment worked out.​It completely succeeded. People didn't believe us. They told us that maybe they would write that it's bad that they shit on the Israeli flag. But the Israeli press saw a three-minute video and only acknowledged two frames of it. 

If you walked around with a sign that said, "I hate Israel, I hate Palestine," everyone in Israel will call you a Palestinian supporter. People in the world don't know about this Israeli mindset, which was created by propaganda.

Did you see any Palestinian reports about this?​No. I think the Palestinians have actual problems to worry about. In Israel, they report about football and about people shitting on flags. I think one of the problems they have is the raging nationalism. There were people who saw the Palestinian flag and still were commenting, "Why didn't you shit on Palestine's flag?"

Do you consider yourself pro-anything? Pro-Israel or -Palestine?Neither, because nationalism is dead. I think that the fact that your parents chose to rent an apartment somewhere nine months after they f*cked doesn't mean anything.

It's much more moral to put shit on the flag than to put blood on the flag—to put your life on the flag. Some people say our video is disgusting, but every time I see all kinds of dead corpses in war, it disgusts me much more. I would rather see pictures of shit. And people see shit all the time. So why is it a taboo?

There are also cultural ideas, feminist issues, and social boundary issues involved in our work, except nationalism. For example, there are people denying the fact that women are shitting! It's like the Holocaust deniers: It never happened... Women do not shit! Boys fart. Boys shit. Not girls! Part of [male] chauvinism is to present women as "pure," to keep them like a statue, an object. There's a totally feminist issue that there are two girls shitting on all those manly (mostly man-led) countries.

I must say, of all of the things, Natali's arrest was totally unproportional to what she did, especially since she didn't do an anti-Israeli thing. It was an anti-nationalism thing. But it's not surprising...

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