Say Cheese!, 2019, Oz Biri
Updated: Mar 25, 2021
Photo: Hadar Saifan
Clay; ceramic slip casting
Oz Biri, b. 1989
“In recent years, streets in Israel and worldwide have become flooded with surveillance cameras designed to document what is occurring in the public sphere, in an attempt to reduce crime, maintain order, and ensure the personal safety of urban residents. Yet these cameras have also significantly undermined the possibility of privacy in the urban sphere. Someone is eavesdropping on, documenting and following what is unfolding on the streets, and thus surveying individuals and their actions.
“In 2015–2016, Israel was overtaken by a wave of terrorism that came to be known as the Knife Intifada. Incredibly, TV news items broadcast footage of most of those hundreds of attacks and violent events.
The fact that surveillance cameras situated on the streets documented almost every relatively improvised and spontaneous event in the context of this wave of terrorism led me to consider the extent to which this system of closed-circuit cameras have overtaken Jerusalem and other cities in Israel and the world. In addition to the question of privacy, this trend also raises questions concerning the positioning of the cameras and their impact on the urban landscape.
I chose to combine two disparate elements. The first is a corbel (an architectural element that offers external support, especially for terraces), which is usually designed to fit the character of the building, street or city where it is positioned. The second element is the security camera, of the kind positioned on city streets without any orderly planning process. The combination of these two elements, which are both part of the urban landscape, underscores the insensitive treatment of the environment that is often coupled with progress.”
On display at the Glass Pavillion, Tel Aviv Biennale of Crafts & Design, MUZA – Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv.