Catherine Yass

Alison Jacques Gallery

The Holy Land is much like Passaic, New Jersey—“a kind of self-destroying postcard world of failed immortality and oppressive grandeur,” as Robert Smithson put it; not so much holy as hole-y, comprised of “monumental vacancies that define, without trying, the memory-traces of an abandoned set of futures.” The Israeli government, as is well known, has been trying to shore up its nation’s dangerously porous ontology by erecting a vast wall isolating it from the Palestinian territories. Adhering to the best tenets of Minimalist aesthetics, this wall encapsulates a dense knot of possibly contradictory thoughts and emotions in a breathtakingly simple and decisive material presence.

Smithson observed that “time turns metaphors into things,” but Catherine Yass’s film Wall, 2004—shot on 16mm film but here presented as a DVD projection—seems to have the opposite function, that of turning a thing

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