One Map, Multiple Legends

Exposing Military Spatial Narratives in the Israeli Desert


  • Noa Roei Assistant Professor




This paper investigates the blurred borders between civilian and military ways of envisioning, experiencing and mediating space in the context of Israel political geography. It does so by way of a close reading of Detroit, a short video work by Amir Yatziv where the construction plans of an urban combat training facility in the Israeli desert are the focus of attention (2009). Taking Detroitas a point of departure, I will present a number of works of art that address the phenomenon in which a military-inflected construction of space yields material and cognitive consequences, naturalising the military’s status as the guiding principle of daily life. Within this sub-genre of critical city- and landscape imagery in Israeli art, Yatziv’s work stands out as it turns the focus from the land itself towards its mediation. This approach, I argue, is highly productive for critical anti-military visual projects, as it directs attention towards those who code and decode urban military landscapes, and highlights the fact that while the borders between military and civilian mediations of space may be blurred, they are not lost just yet.


Social geography; critical cartography; Israeli art; militarism, Israel-Palestine; simulacrum, maps and mapping.

Author Biography

Noa Roei, Assistant Professor

Noa Roei is assistant professor at the Department of Literary and Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam and a research fellow at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA). For the academic year 2019–20 she is also a Marie Curie research fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS). Her book, Civic Aesthetics: Militarism, Israeli Art, and Visual Culture(Bloomsbury, 2016) addresses the multifaceted representations of militarism in contemporary Israeli art. Current research interests include politics and aesthetics; vision and visuality; performance theory; critical cartography and the (de)construction of national identity.


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