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Wildlife Along the Israel-Palestine Border

Art Project Uses Surveillance Footage to Spark Reflection

SVA concludes its series highlighting some of the many outstanding projects by 2016 Alumni Scholarship Award winners. Next up is MFA Photography, Video and Related Media recent graduate Netta Laufer on her project 25FT, which examines wildlife along the Israel-Palestine border as a way to consider human conflict.

Tell us about your project.

25FT is an installation of video and still photographs appropriated from Israeli army surveillance cameras monitoring activity along the separation wall with Palestine. The work simulates the position of the soldier controlling the camera, focusing only on animals and the landscape in the occupied West Bank. The appearance of animals in the footage awaken viewers to an understanding of being human, and the acknowledgement of moral responsibilities that define good and bad. Man is absent, yet his presence is visible through the tracking movement of the camera, military radio exchange, the fence and signs of urban structures, of which their inhabitant remains questioned.

What inspired the idea?

This body of work is rooted in my mandatory service in the Israeli army. In my recent travels to Israel a friend shared stories of his encounters with wild animals while in active service watching over the border as a soldier. His stories inspired my thinking about natural and human made borders, and how they function, both physically and psychologically.

What most surprised you once you started working on the project?

Initially, I thought that this work would focus on animals, only to quickly realize that humans and animals are inseparable.

Tell us about any collaboration with other SVA students. How has working with your colleagues helped your creative process?

Ala d’Amico, Jiwon Choi, Kelsey Lynn, Sara Meghdari and I (all MFA Photography, Video and Related Media grad students) have founded the collective et.alia, which emphasizes our political and personal perspectives as artists from Italy/Brazil, Korea, the United States, Iran and Israel, respectively. Through our work we simultaneously connect our shared experiences as women from different backgrounds.

What advice do you have for next year’s students going through your program?

Work on things that you only feel truly passionate about.

What is something you learned at SVA that you’ll always take with you?

To push my own boundaries.

Laufer has work in the MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Thesis Exhibition, on view Monday, June 20 through Friday, July 1 at the SVA Chelsea Gallery, 601 West 26th Street, 15th Floor. A reception for the exhibition will be held on Wednesday, June 22 at the gallery. For more information, click here.

This year, a record 67 students were chosen from a pool of over 300 applicants, and were awarded Alumni Scholarship Awards from the SVA Alumni Society worth more than $80,000 for thesis and final projects as varied as narrative film, etching, animation, painting and sculpture. For more information about the Alumni Scholarship Awards and to see a complete list of this year's recipients, click here.

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