Udi Aloni

Udi Aloni is a writer, artist and filmmaker whose work explores the discourse between art, theory, and action. His art projects have been presented in numerous museums and galleries including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the ICAin London, and the IsraelMuseumin Jerusalem. His films Kashmir: Journey to Freedom (2009), Forgiveness (2006), Local Angel and Innocent Criminals (2003) have been screened at the Berlinale , among other venues around the world.  In 2011, his book What Does a Jew Want? On Binationalism and Other Specters was published by Columbia University Press.  In April 2012, New York’s Public Theatre presented Aloni in his visual Midrash project with philosopher Slavoj Zizek. In 2009, Aloni began helping with the Cinema Department of the Freedom Theatre in the Jenin Refugee Camp. After the murder of his dear friend, Juliano Mer Khamis, the founder and head of The Freedom Theater, Aloni directed an Arabic adaptation of Waiting for Godot with the Freedom Theatre’s graduated students. This play has so far toured to New York and Ramallah, Jaffa, Helsinki, Tallinn, Berlin, and Kassel. More information


Assassination of an Artist in Jenin Refugee Camp: A Report on Art/Violence

The violence of the oppressed is often justified, but not always necessary.

This talk will address whether art can emerge from a space filled with violence, a space that can hardly bear life. Using the philosopher Alain Badiou’s distinction between militant art and official art, I will ask the following questions: Can the justification of militant violence create a nonviolent space for militant art? Can militant art contain and transform militant violence without being destroyed by traces of the very violence that it internalizes?

 In posing these questions, I will report on the two years that I spent with the graduate students of the Freedom Theatre in the Jenin refugee camp. These two years were split in the middle by the assassination, on April 4, 2011, of the theatre’s founder and my dearest friend, the artist Juliano Mer Khamis. After he died, I wrote, “We worked in the theatre night and day to create our cultural bomb, but we were not sufficiently careful, and it went off in our laps and took your life at the height of its bloom.” In the pre-murder time, I was learning the first steps to becoming a binationalist Palestinian Jew while teaching art and cinema to Juliano’s students. Juliano directed Alice, an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland that I wrote according to his instructions. In the post-murder year, I directed Waiting for Godot in Ramallah with his graduate students, who, in a way, had become exiles from their own refugee camp. We tried –and are still trying– to develop the art of binationalism as a type of militant art.

This presentation will tremble before Lewis Carroll and Samuel Beckett, and it will roam between theory, art, and action. It will feature video clips of our theatrical and cinematic work, as well as excerpts from my recent book, What Does a Jew Want? It will be in dialogue with Slavoj Zizek’s work on violence, Walter Benjamin’s writings on Mythic and Divine Violence, Judith Butler’s work on Israel-Palestine, and the Talmudic story “Achnay’s Oven.”


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