Unmade Film is an ambitious body of work by Uriel Orlow shown for the first time in its entirety in the UK. The work takes the form of an impossible film, fragmented into its constituent parts. An expansive collection of audio-visual works that point to the structure of a film but never fully become one, Unmade Film takes as its starting point the emblematic yet wholly invisible Palestinian village of Deir Yassin, formerly on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The multi-part work evolved out of long-term research and collaborations with actors, musicians, pupils and psychologists in East Jerusalem and Ramallah.
In April 1948, a month before the planned partition of Palestine, Deir Yassin was attacked by two Zionist paramilitary groups and over 100 villagers were brutally killed. The massacre of Deir Yassin is considered to be one of the pivotal events that led to the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from other towns and villages. In 1951 a mental hospital, Kfar Sha’ul, was established on the grounds of Deir Yassin, incorporating the buildings that remained intact after the massacre. Initially treating Holocaust survivors, the psychiatric clinic is today also known for treating and researching the so-called ‘Jerusalem Syndrome’.
Orlow first got to know the mental hospital Kfar Sha’ul as a child on trips from Switzerland, when he visited a great aunt who was treated there. She had survived Auschwitz and was sent to Palestine after the war, where she eventually suffered a breakdown and was hospitalized at the clinic for thirty years, until her death.
In Unmade Film, Orlow probes the entangled history and spatial layering of the Holocaust and the Nakba and addresses conflicting narratives without comparing them. Working across sound, drawing, video, text and photography and referencing Robert Smithson and Pier Paolo Pasolini amongst others, Orlow takes the viewer on a journey through the medium of film and produces a fragmented narrative of space and time that questions the circumstances of obliterated geo-histories and their continued impact in the present. Unmade Film exposes itself to absence and impossible representation, producing unsettled new meanings in complicity with the viewers of the work.
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication edited by Andrea Thal and Uriel Orlow and published by Edition Fink, Zurich, with texts by Erik Bullot, Yoa’d Ghanadry, Avery Gordon, Esmail Nashif, Ilan Pappé, Hanan Toukan, Andrea Thal and Uriel Orlow, and support from Pro Helvetia.