Gas, Stun, Smoke

How should buildings be photographed? Can a photograph do justice to a building, compared with the richness of ways that buildings are being used, their history and symbolism, the complexity of spaces, movement and shapes?

The events which the media calls ‘disorders in the Temple Mount’ where a total mystery for me until I decided to take them as a case study. It was after I heard an Israeli politician claiming the Al-Aqsa mosque has been turned into an arsenal, that I realized this is an extreme case of a pragmatical use of architecture, and I was curious to explore my ideas in relation to this case.

The status quo arrangements considering the Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif, which were updated along the years, do not allow non-muslim visitors, me included, to enter the Al-Aqsa mosque. The works in the exhibition are made using existing material only - photographs or videos uploaded to social media by Palestinian activists, passersby, and photographers of the Israeli Police etc. Through these materials the architecture is seen only as a background to the drama unfolding, which makes them very informative on the ways architecture is being employed by the practitioners of these events.

In the last two years I’ve been following and collecting photographic material emerging from the Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif. I consider each piece of material as a tip of an iceberg of a potential space, a space I begin to extract. I use tools of simulation and three dimensional mapping in order to create documents considering the space of photographs - models of building parts, mappings of camera movements in space, reconstructions of related photographs and more.

The resulting exhibition is a collection of documents, all are the products of combining raw material with a certain process that relates to the constructed space of the site, the events that takes place there, and the way they are being documented. It is a proposal for an architectural documentation file that gives an account of a site, with a significant emphasis on the procedures of documentation and distribution, those being essential to what a testimony or account is.

Installation views from Gas, Stun, Smoke, Gallery of Photographic Communications department, Hadassah Academic College, Jerusalem, 2017
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Shabtai Pinchevsky is a photographer and digital media artist currently based in New York. In his creative practice, Pinchevsky uses digital tools to examine archival photographic materials and their relations to geographies of conflict and displacement. His practice is deeply engaged with issues of social justice, human rights, and anti-colonialism, and their application in art and media. Pinchevsky works with 3D modeling, mapping, internet-based art, and more, to investigate the political complications of the photographic medium, while reflecting on his own implications within the field.