Screen Projects examines ‘fashion for Israeli checkpoints’

Published February 12, 2018

The UB Art Galleries’ Screen Projects public art video initiative’s first offering of the spring semester is a video installation by contemporary Palestinian artist Sharif Waked that, Waked says, “ponders, imagines and interrogates fashion for Israeli checkpoints.”

“Chic Point” (2003), described by the artist as “a reflection on politics, power, aesthetics, the body, humiliation and surveillance,” is on view through Feb. 25 outside the second floor gallery of the UB Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts in the hallway across from the elevator.

The seven-minute video opens with the pulsing, electronic music and flashing lights of a high-fashion runway show. But instead of the male models showing off the latest trends, the men sport fashions designed to strategically reveal their bodies in ways that initially seem comical and absurd. From an “I Love NY” shirt with the heart cut out to reveal the model’s chest to a white button-up with a zipper cutting across the middle, these fashions present a tongue-in-cheek critique of the Israeli checkpoints that control movement in the West Bank and Gaza.

The initial humor evaporates as the work transitions to a series of still photographs showing Palestinian men, one after the other, lifting their shirts, robes and jackets, and baring their bodies as they cross the militarized border checkpoints.

“Chic Point” reveals how certain bodies are stripped bare and rendered vulnerable, performatively exposing the conjoining ways that the global fashion market, expanding technologies of surveillance and local Israeli checkpoints merge to perforate and reconfigure bodies for inspection.

The UB Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday.

Admission is free.