Offering a reverent, subdued space to reflect on the story of his grandfather’s memorial and the larger narrative of the marginalization of the Christian-Palestinian community, central to Guez’s 40 DAYS is the destruction of the cemetery in Lod. Projected in front of a wooden pew, his video weaves interior views of the Monayer home with scenes at the hospital, the cemetery, and Jacob Monayer’s grave—as well as his memorial service inside a local Eastern Orthodox church. In one scene, Samira Monayer, Guez’s grandmother, shares her husband’s original snapshots of the desecration that occurred years before in the cemetery. Stored in a kitchen drawer and subsequently dampened and stuck together, the photographs have to be torn apart by Samira as she identifies—in fluent Hebrew and Arabic—the destroyed graves of her mother, Jacob’s parents, and other family members. On the wall of the gallery space, enlarged scanograms of the images detail gravesites with broken crosses, defiled inscriptions, and broken tomb covers, exposing the remains of the deceased—damaged photos referencing destruction within destruction. A second video, projected on the wall opposite 40 DAYS, is a short loop of a man walking to the cemetery at sunset, offering a rhythmic reprieve from destroyed gravesites and familial grief. Guez’s use of personal storytelling in his exhibition is a compelling tool to give voice to previously unknown pieces in the history of Palestine and Israel.
Dor Guez’s process at Artpace included reviewing and editing video footage documenting the days before his grandfather Jacob Monayer (1920-2011) passed, and the memorial services that occurred 40 days later. (In the Eastern Orthodox Church, souls of the deceased are believed to wander the Earth for 40 days after death, when ascension of the soul occurs; special prayers at the gravesite and in the church are then held in memorial of the departed.) 40 DAYS combines intimate video works with prints of destroyed gravesites in the Christian-Palestinian cemetery in Lod, a town between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The images originate from Guez’s ongoing work maintaining the first Christian-Palestinian Archive, a growing collection of archival documents pertaining to the Palestinians who were dispersed from—and those who remained in—Israel after the 1948 War. He incorporates selections from the project into his installations as “scanograms” or manipulated ready-mades created by layering three different scans into one image, giving each part specific light, color, and depth. The scanograms in 40 DAYS are enlarged versions of the photographs Jacob Monayer took to document the cemetery’s destruction to file with the police.