View of “Uriel Orlow,” 2011. From left: Anatopism, 2010; Yellow Limbo, 2010.

Uriel Orlow

La Rada

View of “Uriel Orlow,” 2011. From left: Anatopism, 2010; Yellow Limbo, 2010.

It was an unusual postage stamp that first set Uriel Orlow on the trail of a bizarre episode in political history, whose many facets he explores and details he retells in changing installations. It is well known that the Six-Day War of 1967 led to the closure of the Suez Canal. Less well known is the fact that in the midst of the conflict, fourteen ships from different countries, laden with a variety of cargo, were trapped in the blockade between the Egyptian and Israeli fronts. Considering the brief duration of the war, it initially seemed as if the closure would remain merely an episode, but it lasted eight years, during which time the ships—sometimes known as the Yellow Fleet—could not move. Rotating crews staffed them, whiling away the time with games. Specially crafted stamps bore the emblem of a “micronation” created out of necessity: GBLA, the Great Bitter Lake

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the November 2011 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.