Can an artist, by his artwork, lend legitimacy to the PLO terrorist massacre of the 11 innocent members of the Israeli Olympic team in Munich 1972 ? Well the answer is yes he can: see under Emily Jacir with her work “Material for a film” describing PLO member Wael Zuaiter’s live and dead. Can the Guggenheim give an award for such an artwork, yes he can: see under the 2008 Hugo Boss award.
And more precisely. On October 16, 1972, Wael Zuaiter was targeted by the Mossad and killed near his apartment in Rome. In his capacity of diplomat who worked for the Palestinian Resistance, he was suspected to being linked to the assassination of the 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team in Munich,
On Nov. 13, 2008 , 37 years after the Munich massacre , Emily Jacir, an American Palestinian artist, received the Guggenheim Hugo Boss award for her artistic work, including “Material for a film”, an installation comprised of photographs, text, video and sound pieces ” describing Wael Zuaite’s live and dead…(..is on view through April 15, 2009 at the Guggenheim Museum, NY)
Two keywords come to my mind to hint at the situation: ambiguity and disguise. Both keywords represent Wael Zuaiter in an standalone intellectual setting, created by Emily Jacir, disconnecting him from the massacre under the label: victim of the Mossad’s revenge.
The Guggenheim point of view for awarding her the Hugo Boss prize was , I quote:
..”Palestinian-American artist Emily Jacir has won the biennial Hugo Boss Prize. Jacir, 37,…. In a statement, the jurors,… , said of their selection, ‘Emily Jacir combines the roles of archivist, activist, and poet to create poignant and memorable works of art that are at once intensely personal and deeply political. It is the refined sophistication of Jacir’s art and the relevance of her concerns—both global and local—in a time of war, transnationalism, and mass migration that led us to award her the 2008 Hugo Boss Prize’.”….see here.
The ambiguity and disguise, in the the Guggenheim’s statement, begin with the lack of any afterthought about Jacirs “… poignant and
memorable works of art that are at once intensely personal and deeply political.” ..where “intensely personal” can be viewed as ..”How, Jacir seems to ask, could such a cultivated individual be involved with killing people? The implied answer is that, of course, he couldn’t have been”.., (quoted from “An artist pursues revenge over intellectual honesty”for more see here), and where “political” can be interpreted as a legitimate action for the welfare of the Palestinian cause or in her case, as linking her trough the dead of Wael Zuaiter, to the Black September terrorist group who perpetuate the assassinating of the Israeli Olympic Team in Munich 1972.
The ambiguity and disguise continue further with Emily Jacir’s romantic description of Zuaiter as an hero, the intellectual living in Rome: a point well illustrated by Jacirs emphatic pelerinage to Rome in preparation for her installation “Material for a film”:
…”Jacir travelled to Rome. She met the artists, writers and poets Zuaiter had known. She photographed the covers of the books he had kept in his library – Dostoevsky, Durrell, Genet, Rimbaud, Blake, Eliot, Pound, Wordsworth, Whitman, Thoreau, Huxley, Goethe and more. She borrowed copies of the Italian-Palestinian journal Rivoluzione Palestinese that Zuaiter had read. She listened to Gustav Mahler’s ninth symphony as he had done. She also re-enacted the crime scene, trying to imagine the movements of Zuaiter and his assassins.”…
The phrase ..”.. She (Jacir) also re-enacted the crime scene, trying to imagine the movements of Zuaiter and his assassins…” tend to blurre cause and effect, becase Zuaiter would probably never have been assassinated if not “the movements” of the PlO murderes after the Israeli Olympic Team leading to their massacre.
And more in her own words:
“.. ‘The thing about Wael,’ she says,’he was outside of Palestine. He spoke the language of other people but he told our story. He was a pioneer,’ she says. In time the same will be said of her.”… For the full article see here.
Ambiguity and disguise are again found in her phrase .. “..he (Wael Zuaiter) was outside of Palestine. He spoke the language of other people but he told our story”..Indeed he was outside Palestine not only as an romantic intellectual persona in Rome, but also in context with the following real live facts, . here is a Wiki excerpt:
..”Zuaiter was held for questioning by Italian police in August 1972 in relation to a bombing by the group Black September against an oil refinery, but was later released. The Israeli Mossad suspected him of being the head of Black September in Rome, and put him on an assassination list after Black September’s attack in Munich.
At the time Zwaiter was the PLO representative in Italy, and while Israel privately claimed he was a member of Black September and was involved in a failed plot against an El Al airliner, members of the PLO have argued that he was in no way connected. Abu Iyad, deputy-chief of the PLO, has stated that Zwaiter was “energetically” against terrorism. representative of the PLO in Europe ,”…see here.
So, he, Zuaiter, actively toke part in the making and the polemic of the Palestinian history and not only “told our story” as said by Emily Jacir.
Emily Jacir actively inflate her political views far beyond ‘the artistic story’. The Munich massacre of the Israelis remaining an anonymous background in her work. Only the Mossad is mentioned, the bad men who killed the ‘good’ Palestinians in Europe including Zuaiter (see here for their full list).
Well, on all this can be said: ambiguity, disguise, and not only for art’s sake but with more than a bit of selective historical inaccuracy.