Checkpoint Fashion Week (2011-2012) - Palestinian Artist LAILA SHAWA
In this video-loop installation, the artist employs CCTV footage of a Palestinian resistance suicide-bomber taken from a 2007 documentary The Cult of the Suicide Bomber. The footage shows the woman being apprehended by IDF soldiers and asked to take her clothes off in order to reveal the explosives around her that she hesitated/failed to detonate. Laila Shawa claims that this failure was what inspired her to examine this theme:
Her failure intrigued me because I thought if you’re going to be a suicide bomber you’re going to do it properly.
This argument led her to conclude that this failure could be attributed to the possibility that:
whoever gave this to her didn’t care whether she lived or died: she blows herself up, fine. If she doesn’t, she’ll get caught. She’s dispensable. (x)
From this, Shawa sought to tackle this theme from a perspective that situates those women not only in the political and resistance theology that inspires it, but also into a larger social context:
I didn’t want to be judgmental in my work. I wanted to pose the question: are women suicide bombers heroes or are they victims-or are they both? I had to put her in the context of occupation, I had to put her in the context of Gaza being bombed and I had to put her in the context of children being killed. (x)
The video installation shows this fading and manipulated footage, which eventually becomes obscured by bright Arabic verses from the Quran. The project was part of a larger exhibition which included other pieces, such as Birds of Paradise and Inside Paradise that highlighted the brutality and criminality of the Israeli occupier.