My painting And Starring Benyamin Netanyahu as Norman Maine uses the main characters from the 1950s musical A Star is Born as metaphor for the current relationship between America (Esther) and Israel (Norman). It was very much a personal response to the January 2009 ground invasion of Gaza and I painted it just after the March election which returned the Likud party to power in Israel.
I used the metaphor of a relationship in a Hollywood movie to make the point that we bring different experiences and history to a relationship. We think we speak the same language or culture, but the reality is that when things go wrong, it’s often caused by differences we never saw coming. The time to acknowledge these differences is now, not by the time the issue becomes life and death. The painting suggests a different lens. What if our leaders entered into relationship counseling instead of political mediation?
The film metaphor is also about navigating the falsehood of public life and politics. They are playing multiple roles. Sometimes conflict is useful to them, and the audience is left to ponder what's real and not real. Anyway, see the film and ponder.
It has been published in the Art Section of the Palestine Chronicle. Just log onto their website and go to the Art link at the top of the page and select "paint". Palestine Chronicle: http://www.palestinechronicle.com .
To answer people's email about why I chose the subject, I’m concerned that artists today are disconnecting from the political context of art history, and indeed their own art. The union of art and politics is very discouraged in the art world. Art that focuses on political content gets lumped with protest and propaganda art more often. This is where the disconnect starts.
There is today a new assumption that ‘real art’ isn’t about politics at all. As a community, we should be very concerned with that because it’s part of the censoring of our history. And political expression is a huge part of our art history.
On the conflict itself, what the painting is concerned with is history, including personal history, clouding one's ability to make proportional and just decisions. Cultures of militarism and extremism thrive within cycles of violence. That is why, as artists, we can and should use culture to change culture.