Opinion

Just Before the Next Political Murder

Imagined excerpts from the police interrogation of the Bezalel Academy student who created artwork depicting the prime minister with a noose | Opinion

A man holds up a poster designed by a Bezalel student during a protest against censorship held at the Jerusalem art school on December 15, 2016.
Emil Salman

“Israel Police questioned an art student after she put up 12 posters printed with the face of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a noose hanging in front of him at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Earlier, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit approved the launching of a probe on suspicions of incitement ... The works were put up in a stairwell in the art department of the Bezalel building on Mount Scopus, and were taken down after a few hours, though it is not clear who removed them.”

Haaretz, Dec. 13

Ma’am, you are being questioned under caution. We recommend that you carefully weigh every word.

The truth is I don’t understand what I’m doing here.

You didn’t expect something like this to pass in silence.

Fine, fine, without drama, please.

So go ahead, spill everything.

Spill everything?

Every last thing. Don’t leave anything to chance.

Fine, then maybe first something about my worldview ...

Certainly, a worldview is very important when it comes to events of an ideological nature.

Just take into account that you might think it sounds a bit subversive.

Ma’am, subversive is what we get paid for.

I understand. In that case, I’ll begin with a small confession.

Excellent. That will spare us all a lot of tension and aggravation.

Alright Well, then Yes, I admit it, it’s true: I belong to a school of thought that believes that culture shapes reality.

Say what?

Hey, I knew that would be the reaction, but I’m tired of apologizing. I believe that culture shapes reality.

Ma’am, I’m asking you not to make fun of us.

Excuse me, but I told you explicitly that it’s subversive, and you told me to speak freely

Ma’am, don’t get too complicated here, talk simple.

Simple maybe it really is better that way. Alright, to simplify, I believe in culture as the organizer of reality, even as the sorter of reality. Are you familiar with the term “simulacrum”?

Ma’am, please don’t bother us now with simulation – we’re talking about a noose.

I’m talking about a noose, too! But you surely understand that from my point of view the world is, all in all, the product of collective representations, right?

Huh ?

Collective representations as a superstructure of consciousness, of course.

Ma’am, maybe we didn’t make ourselves completely clear. All we want is to find out when and where it was all supposed to happen.

You’re asking about space and time, I understand, and those are truly huge, critical issues.

Good, now we’re starting to talk the same language.

Fine, then I must have omitted an important connection that should put things in order for you.

Order is good. Go ahead – tell all.

Absolutely. But first maybe a few words about Durkheim.

Durkheim? Who’s that, your partner?

Oy, funny guys. Like, Emil Durkheim? The most important sociologist ever?

What sociologist? Where did you dredge up a sociologist now?

Excuse me, but I didn’t invent anything. Durkheim already proved that media images blur the boundaries between reality and representations of reality.

Nu, and assuming that he assumed ...

Then what is space and time, really? You undoubtedly understand that there is no absolute answer.

Ma’am, give us a simple answer: At what time and on what day were you and the others planning to do it?

Well, you’re continuing to insist on an ontological conception of reality, and I’m explaining to you that my work is based on an epistemological foundation!

Episto-what?

Epistemological, epistemological – that’s what I’ve been trying to explain to you for a quarter of an hour already! From my point of view, the ontological dimension is a fraud!

The ontological is a fraud?

Of course it is! So all we have left is the epistemological!

Then put your epistemological aside for a moment and let’s talk about this ontological. You’re actually saying that it’s about fraud?

Well, and what exactly does Baudrillard talk about?

Baudri-what?

Baudrillard, Jean Baudrillard, you must know him.

He’s from around here?

Stop joking, you dummies. After all, who was it who talked about the difficulty of distinguishing between reality and a simulation of reality?

Baudrillard?

Of course! Look, I understand that it’s hard for you to accept this

It’s not easy, it’s not easy.

Of course, because it undermines your traditional conceptions, which seek to differentiate between the concrete and the imagined!

Ma’am, everything is fine with the imagined, but what about the noose? When were you planning to do it?

But I’m explaining this: The noose operates in your consciousness without existing in actuality!

Ma’am, all we’re asking is when you planned to assassinate the prime minister.

And I’m answering you, only you refuse to understand! You’re used to consuming signs and symbols and to treating them as concrete materials!

Okay, I can see we’re not going to get anywhere with you. As far as we’re concerned, you can go, you’re free

But you understand that all you’re doing is replicating signifiers that have been voided of what is signified, right?

Replicating, of course replicating. We have to go

But how will you be able to understand the noose without understanding about image as a camouflage for emptiness?

Ma’am, we have to go to an event for a colleague who's leaving tomorrow. We’ll continue another time.

Would you like me to email you about the sorcery of the image?

No, no, it’s fine, thanks.

Too bad, because I have a terrific presentation about reality as representation