Inadvertent Monuments
Ilana Salama Ortar, Stephen Wright

       Our project focuses on what was initially a deeply-entrenched border cairn, constructed after World War I, intended to separate the French mandate of Lebanon from the British mandate of Palestine. During the Israeli occupation of South Lebanon from 1982-2000, and under the protection of Tsahal, layers of top soil were scooped up from vast tracts of occupied land and taken by dump trucks to Israeli settlements near the border - a fact to which the stone cairn bears subtle though irrefutable evidence: the cairn, whose bottom half was deeply entrenched in the earth, now stands some eight feet above the ground. While its top portion is the same light tan colour as the surrounding topography, the bottom three feet are a dark ruddy brown - identical to the soil once covering them. Intended as a horizontal territorial marker, the cairn has come to mark verticality - raising a variety of issues regarding the difference between land and soil, territory and earth. It is an inadvertent monument. As such, it stands as a condensed metaphor of the conflict embedded in the historical present; a public mirror for anyone who cares to look at the issue of peace and partition not as event but as sign. Taking this land-art-like unintentional "monument" as its hub, this project refuses to be partitioned within the territory of "art." Instead, using art-related skills to refocus attention on an otherwise invisible symbol, it foregrounds art's use-value in negotiating the shift from a piece of land to a land of peace.

       The collaboration between Ilana Salama Ortar and Stephen Wright on Inadvertent Monuments is based on an extra-disciplinary approach to art: contrary to trendy inter-disciplinary approaches (which accept disciplinary partitioning as a precondition for association) and the apparent lack of discipline characterising so much contemporary art, they seek to mirror the disciplinary extraterritoriality and non-situatedness of their practice in the issues that they focus. Using art-related methodologies, they seek to draw the sort of sustained and thoughtful attention to inadvertent symbols and monuments - particularly in situations of social urgency, suppressed memory and identity loss - that art-specific proposals often enjoy. Stephen Wright is a Paris-based theorist of art-related practice. Ilana Salama Ortar is a Haifa-based artist, working extensively on the development of "civic art" (city + civitas), investigating the visible and invisible traces of the erasure of individual and collective memory in the urban fabric. They previously collaborated in the exhibition L'Incurable Mémoire des Corps.