Aerial photographs (Google), plywood, and digital photographs
Thanks: Dror Etkes (Kerem Navot), Yael Frolow
The wall installation Key is based on the disciplines of cartography, geography, and aerial photography used for the purpose of intelligence, planning, and surveillance. Dana Yoeli uses publicly available Google Earth satellite imagery to reconstruct the agricultural land situation in the Occupied Territories south of Bethlehem as of October 2014. Following the expanding Jewish agriculture, Yoeli combines a distant aerial view, which offers a vast, anonymous and abstract, sublime space, with a specific frontal gaze that clings to the ground, where it identifies signs and traces of action.
Jewish agriculture in the Occupied Territories strives to realize a biblical vision by planting crops belonging to the seven species (as mentioned in Deuteronomy 8: 7-8). Regarded as "the fruits with which the Land of Israel was blessed," these crops (especially vines and olive trees) receive preferential status from the Jewish farmer in the Territories, who exerts himself to make their presence felt in the area. At the same time, they attest to the dialectics underlying the Israeli-Zionist-settler culture: while deeming the Arab fellah an agent of biblical memory, who preserves ancient agricultural traditions, it simultaneously pushes him out and restricts his actions. By the same token, the olive tree, which is uprooted and moved around, has become the victim of the symbolic baggage with which it was charged by both cultures.
Yoeli lays bare the deceptive use of agriculture as a tool for creeping annexation of the Territories, evading public attention under the guise of a pastoral terrain. She isolated an aerial sphere, pinpointing several levels of signification and distortion within it: an Israeli outpost is reproduced and thickened into a "stratified collage," while expanding the borders of its cultivated land at the expense of Palestinian land. Another area in the work bears eight image sequences which together define a cartographic legend, or key, of concrete actions carried out in situ by Jewish farmers: 1. wadi (wastewater discharge); 2. vineyard; 3. irrigation system; 4. barrier against wild boar; 5. traces of agricultural machinery in the sand; 6. razed path; 7. commemoration via agriculture; 8. olive grove.