Zion Sky: Saluting Those of Fair Hair and Features - Interim Conclusions
It might sound like clichéd curatorial squirming to claim that although the project did not achieve the objective it set for itself, what actually happened instead is more interesting. Well, no, not more interesting, but surprising, to me at least. The compilation you have in your hands was supposed to be something Limor Livnat would listen to at home with pride. That Avigdor Lieberman would feel comfortable with. Well, all right, I’m exaggerating. But, as the underdogs of Zionist resistance in pre-state Israel, some Etzel and Lehi veterans might possibly appreciate its melancholy grandeur.
When I advertised the call to participate in a compilation album, I asked for music that celebrates Zionism as an utopist idea, as though nothing had gone wrong along the way. Music that would connect with the original, sweeping, engagè power of a modern national movement from the school of thought of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe. I wanted to create a group musical act of over-identification, that is, an act that would be ‘more Zionistic than the Zionists’, and thus remind contemporary Zionism, which is collapsing under the burden of its erosion, decay, and the injustice it caused not only to the non-Jewish residents of Palestine, but also to the Jews who answered its call for realization, that there was a powerful, beautiful utopian grandeur in the original idea. That power without beauty cannot be just. That beauty without power cannot be realized. I wanted to create a moment of power and beauty that would stand before the center that is gradually losing its mind in the dangerous panic of a wounded animal, and not from a judgmental, seditious, curtailing, sectoral position that is itself insane with hatred and frustration, but from a position that states: You were not born in sin. You are not born killers. There was another way. What would have happened if.
The music I received is filled with power and beauty. But it could be said that not one of the participating musicians managed for even a moment, even jokingly, to forget the present and remember parallel probabilities that have vanished into oblivion, to the quantum superposition bureau of lost souls: presence, but not in our backyard. None of the pieces on the CD managed to sift out the sound of mourning, of regret. Perhaps the fact that they managed to shake free from the rage and frustration for a moment is an achievement, a first step.
Even my own contribution to the compilation did not escape this fate. Maybe because I recorded my track (the naked, minimalist cover version for the Eurovision anthem, Kan [Here], by Orna and Moshe Datz) after I’d already received all the other pieces, and the noble, colossal, melancholy nymph clung to me too. The piece by Anat Ben-David is perhaps the only one in the compilation that is virtually free of any requiem element. The romanticism of the non-Israeli participants (tracks 3, 4, 6, 7, 11) comes from musical traditions that lament the fate of Europe, whether because of its surrender to globalization, or its surrender to Judeo-Christianity. Even Na’ama Bat-Sarah, a skinhead member of the Jewish Defense League who lives where she was born, in Skokie, Illinois (and appears in the CD under her professional name, Hadar), in a piece from an instrumental album devoted to the festival of Hanukkah, is more influenced by the dark industrial ambient music that was born on the old continent, than the victorious rejoicing of the festival songs we are familiar with. The piece by Yarden Erez, part of the soundtrack for The Dining Hall, an installation by Sigalit Landau, imprints echoes of the Yishuv days in mechanical, motor noise, a mechanism that has lost its way but continues in its routine, clinging, incapable of stopping and restarting itself. Even Alma Alloro’s rendition on a primitive Casio of a Navy Troupe hit doesn’t sound joyous even for a moment. The two old pieces – by Ma’atz and Duralex Sedlex – are important for the compilation as representations of art that spoke a political language but with the same esthetic force of those who stood before it. The power of Hasha’on Hahistori (The Historical Clock) is in its detachment from the whimpering of the sanctimonious Left of the squares, and its enlistment of the ‘move, move, destroy’ momentum from the iconic pioneering samples that lead the piece and direct it against the movers and destroyers. If the piece had not possessed monumental grandeur, but only opposition and defiance, it would not have been included in the compilation. Shir Hagiben (Song of the Hunchback) achieved the original objective of this CD twenty years ago when it was performed in a Trojan-horse performance of malicious over-identification at a Jabotinsky Quiz toward the end of the Shamir government. Thus it marks the probability of endeavor that I believe can still be continued. A fat torch worthy of being picked up. The song is the point of departure of my work in Where To? from the start, and the entire CD embarks from the forgotten moment it created for the purpose of mentioning it and continuing it. The pieces by Seven Morgues and Poochlatz, Israeli representatives of dark ambient music and power electronics born in a Europe that looks back at the abyss of 1945, filled with static noise of collapse and destruction. The sweet rendition of the children’s song that concludes the CD is a lullaby of what was, the tears flow of their own accord, are absorbed in the insane earth, and sprout the desire for the lost grandeur of belonging, the justness of the path, for realization as it was embodied in the orange my mother, a Holocaust survivor, received as a gift when she disembarked from the illegal immigrant ship, as it was realized in the balmy Saturday afternoons of my childhood, playing soccer on the banks of the Yarkon River, my late grandfather standing behind me, watching over me with a proud smile in a Salonikan suit par excellence.