The images in Jaime Scholnick’s series Gaza: Mowing the Lawn, currently being shown at the CB1 Gallery in Los Angeles, are both familiar and unsettling.
The artist drew delicate lines over 50 photographs selected from the deluge of horrific news images of Gaza that flooded social media during Israel’s war last summer. With Scholnick’s intervention, the images are slightly abstracted, but also given further depth.
By covering up the often gory realism of the photographs, she gives them a new weight and dimensionality. The images appear eerily suspended in time. Dead children wrapped in funeral shrouds are blanketed once more by the artist’s lines.
In a description of the exhibition published on the gallery’s website, Scholnick explains that drawing on the photographs was a way to both process the violence being wrought on Gaza, and to make it more difficult to look the other way.
“I felt it was really important that the viewer can ‘dive into’ the scene,” Scholnick commented via email. “At first you are drawn in by the mark-making but what is uncovered with deeper viewing is the atrocities that were committed.”
The altered images compel the viewer to relate to the pictures in a new way.
“The photos are ‘of the moment’ images, thrown away the next day in a newsroom,” Scholnick added. “But turning it into art memorialized all the people and children.”
The exhibition title refers to the dehumanizing terminology used by Israeli strategists for the episodic violence wreaked on Palestinians to deter resistance against military rule.
All of the images in the exhibition are from Gaza except for one (seen above) showing a group of picnicking Israelis watching the spectacle from a hilltop as if they were Americans enjoying Fourth of July fireworks.
“People bring their lawn chairs and they bring beer, and they watch people get destroyed and they cheer,” Scholnick told the Los Angeles Times. “I found out about this by doing some reading and I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me?’ I felt like I had to include it.”
Scholnick said she has “gotten a lot of flak” for including that image, and for not including “both sides” of the story by showing Israelis. She said to the LA Times that someone even told her that the news photographs were staged.
“You have more than 2,000 Palestinians killed, with 1,500 of them civilians, and you compare that to 66 soldiers? The fact is there weren’t as many casualties on the Israeli side,” the artist told the newspaper.
Gaza: Mowing the Lawn is on exhibition at the CB1 Gallery through Saturday. The artist is currently working on a major public art installation for the Los Angeles Metro, which selected her to create a 4-by-200 foot panel for one of its stations. More of her work can be found on her website: jaimescholnick.com.
Images of artwork courtesy of Jaime Scholnick and CB1 Gallery. Photograph of exhibition installation by Jay Oligny, courtesy of CB1 Gallery.