Jerusalem, Capital of the Dystopian World (2017)

Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven was the title of an exhibition on medieval Jerusalem at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2016. The exhibition portrayed the city as a kind of "capital of the medieval world" that was bound by Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. However, in its mission to highlight the cosmopolitanism in three religions being central to a single city, the exhibition was criticized for bypassing Jerusalem's predominantly Islamic character in the period in focus. Presently, the Israeli state claims Jerusalem as the "undivdided capital of the Jewish people," despite the city's Arab/Islamic character surviving in its Palestinian neighborhoods, accounting for approximately a third of the city. Traces of the city's Christian character are today largely experienced through organized group tourism catered to Christian pilgrimage, as well as through activity by American evangelical churches. Fragmented though as it has become since the foundation of Israel in 1948, the city has been under a single administrative regime since the 1967 Six Day War. Yet, its divison between Israeli "West" Jerusalem and Palestinian "East" Jerusalem persists profoundly and conspicuously. The Palestinain neighborhoods of the city, mostly poor, patrolled by Israeli military, and often sites of political rebellion, are hoped for by many Palestinians to be recognized as a capital city of their own.

Jerusalem, Capital of the Dystopian World imagines Jerusalem as another kind of capital city, one not bound by a religious cosmopolitanism but by military rule, both high-tech and low-tech surveillance, messianic spiritual movemements, global geopolitics, American capital investment, fear, loathing, tourism and terrorism. What kind of world would contemporary Jerusalem be the capital of?



Clockwise from L-R: 1.) Israeli youth storm the al-Aqsa mosque, 2.) A Palestinian man prays in a bush in West Jerusalem, 3.) An Israeli flag drapes over a building taken over by Jewish settlers in a Palestinian neighborhood, 4.) An Israeli television news camera films a Palestinian protest.


Clockwise from L-R: 1.) A Palestinian woman photographs a group of Christian tourists with her phone, 2.) Tourists stroll unperturbed around military barriers limiting Palestinian movement, 3.) A burned and bullet-holed road sign indicating Jerusalem, 4.) A beggar pleading to men leaving Friday prayers at the al-Aqsa mosque.


Clockwise from L-R: 1.) Burning trash in East Jerusalem in lieu of municipal services, 2.) Palestinians wait as Israeli military blocakdes access to homes during a military operation, 3.) Jewish yeshiva students huddle around an entrance to the al-Aqsa mosque, 4.) Christian evangelists casually chat about the apocalypse in East Jerusalem.


Clockwise from L-R: 1.) A tour bus parks along the Israel/West Bank separation barrier, 2.) Christian pilgrims carry a replica cross, 3.) Israeli nationalists wave flags at the heart of Palestinian Jerusalem, 4.) Muslim pilgrims are contained behind barriers by police during Ramadan.