Catherine Yass

Wall, Israel, 2004

16 mm film transferred to digital video, 32.5 min

Courtesy of the artist and Alison Jacques Gallery

Catherine Yass’s documentary piece on the wall records the intimate reality which separates peoples, families and individuals, and splits identities and cultures, trade links and views. This piece continues a process of research begun by Yass in 2004. Her non-narrative film depicts no people and records no voices. This is a silent film which threatens to fall into the sin of beautifying the scene, as if depicting a vast modernist sculpture which looms over rural agricultural communities and residential neighbourhoods. Flickers emerging onto the screen enable us to locate signs of life remaining on the edges of the wall.

Concentration on the wall, and posing it as a metaphor which fills the screen and limits the viewer’s field of vision, recreates the sense of enclosure which the imprisoning wall creates in reality, as Yass explains:

"I've filmed the wall going on and on, and it doesn't seem to get shocking until you realize it's going on far too long for a narrative structure. The length of time adds a feeling of dumbness that the wall has. It kind of shuts out other stuff and shuts you up"

The limited perspective effects a physical sensation of helplessness, which spares no-one, on either side of the wall