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SCREEN Projects: Sharif Waked

Sharif Waked, Chic Point: Fashion for Israeli Checkpoints, 2003. Video, 5 min and 27 sec (loop), 3:4, color, sound. Courtesy of the artist.

January 15-February 25, 2018

UB Art Gallery

Based in Israel, Sharif Waked (b. 1964) is a contemporary artist whose video works repurpose and subvert the tropes of representing Arab people. His video Chic Point (2003) opens with the pulsing electronic music and flashing lights of a high fashion runway show, but rather than the male models exhibiting the latest trends, these men sport fashions designed to strategically reveal their bodies in ways that initially seem comical and plainly 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—which he unzips as he pivots back across the catwalk—these fashions level a tongue-in-cheek critique of Israeli checkpoints that control movement in the West Bank and Gaza. The initial humor of this video evaporates as the work transitions to a series of still photographs showing the precarity of Palestinian men as they bare their bodies at these militarized border checkpoints. Thus, 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.