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Questions of Practice: Artist Yael Bartana on Participating in Politics Through Art

Israeli artist Yael Bartana’s film, installation, and performance work addresses a host of social and geopolitical issues. Naturally, though, her ambitions exceed simply preaching to the like-minded or affirming the beliefs of an audience already conversant with the messages her work conveys. In this interview, Bartana explains her approach to engaging with the political in her work and why she found a connection forged with a “right-wing religious woman” so meaningful.

Yael Bartana is a filmmaker, photographer, and installation artist whose work centers on the imagery of identity and the politics of memory. In 2018, with support from a Center Project grant, the Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibited Bartana’s And Europe Will Be Stunned—a film trilogy addressing the history of Polish-Jewish relations and its influence on the contemporary Polish identity. The Museum also commissioned a new public performance, Bury Our Weapons, Not Our Bodies!, which included a staged procession and a series of eulogies about war and survival.