Objects-In-Focus: The Temporary Ruin
Traces, remains, and ruins of a disappearing landscape come to the fore in Benji Boyadgian’s The Temporary Ruin. Using items that the artist gathered in Wadi al-Shami, also known as ‘Garbage Valley’, this work is a detailed study of a landscape that is in the process of disappearing due to Israeli colonialist expansion. The valley is located in southern Jerusalem— whose borders were unilaterally drawn by the Israeli occupation in 1967— between Jabal Abu Ghneim, Bethlehem, and Mar Elias Monastery. In 1996, the cutting down of trees in the valley began a process of fundamental change to the natural landscape. Moreover, the construction of the Israeli apartheid wall cut most of the land owners and farmers out from the valley, and effectively excised the valley itself from Bethlehem.
The objects gathered by the artist and displayed in the cabinet of curiosities, as well as the paintings that complement them examine our relationship to place. On the one hand, there is a sense of absence/presence, a feeling of futility in the face of incessant Israeli transformation of the landscape. There is also a questioning of our obsessive attachment to places and things.
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Benji Boyadgian, The Temporary Ruin, Chapter 2: The Cabinet of Curiosity, 2017-ongoing
Cabinet: Plywood and found objects, Paintings: Watercolour on paper
Cabinet: 120x120x150cm, Paintings: various dimensions
Courtesy of the artist