143.4 A "silence" field of struggle: A visual interpretation of the current memorial landscape of military cemeteries in Israel

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 1:06 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Dr. Yael GUILAT , Art Department , Oranim Academic College, Kiryat Tivon, Israel
Dr. Shoshi WAKSMAN , Multimodal literacy, Lewinsky Academic College , Tel Aviv, Israel
In the past decade, Israel’s military cemeteries have been changing dramatically. These changes include a variety of textual, visual and spatial elements that had not been characteristic of the  landscape of military  cemeteries(MC's) until then. Even though the rules that articulate the semiotic system in these cemeteries were almost hermetic and uniform, we are witness to some growing "fractures". 

The current visibility of MC's  in terms of Social Space reveals a multimodal iconography in a contested public space. This iconography is composed by diverse imagery of languages, styles, and genres; however, instead of constituting an arbitrary collection of artifacts, this diversity reveals a new pattern  of loss and mourning.We are witness of the existence of a dual structure: the authorized arrangement becomes an infrastructure that is steadily being obscured by an unofficial mantle of forms, languages, and meanings.As well a controlled collective space metamorphoses into a space shared by the public as a multicultural community of individuals.Everyday life practices are being reified via visible artifacts and representations: plants, decorative objects, toys, offerings , photos, and images. The focus shifted  from “hard” memory to “soft” memory: from official stone memorials  and commemorative objects to unofficial spaces and objects of mourning and loss.

The  visual and spatial reorganization and modification of the  landscape of the MC's represent an attempt to change the flow of power relations from top-down processes to bottom-up processes. The various participants in the bereavement community are symbolically claiming the space. They reflect profound conflicts within the Israeli society and Zionist ideology that are embodied in the resistance and response to the official linguistic restrictions and  policy in MC's. It seems that the landscape in the military cemeteries becomes a "silence" field of struggle between the national and the private claims towards memorizing and remembering.