Tom Tlalim: Walking Through Walls / The New Model City

WALKING THROUGH WALLS / THE NEW MODEL CITY Download: Tom Tlalim – The New Model City (Onomatopee, 2010) Walking Through Walls inhabits a dualism. On one level it evokes a human desire for freedom and transcendence, which is often fantasised as a break out of the familiar security of confined spaces. On the other hand, it is the nickname of an urban warfare technique which is employed by the Israeli military, and is outlined in an article by Eyal Weizman. The tactic involves an army boring holes through the walls of successive residential houses inside a densely built environment, and advancing through the network of wormholes as a kind of ‘inverse urban geometry’. The conflict embodied in the reality of the metaphor of Walking Through Walls, tells of a romantic fantasy of the military planner to be liberated from confinement, to be able to cross borders and be free to interpret the environment as he wills. But any attempt to realise that fantasy produces violent and penetrative acts that fracture the delicate structures in which humanity and life can be protected, both in the victim, and in the soldiers. The image of a pierced wall in the film connects this same metaphor to the world of multinational financial interests and their government allies, that often pierce through the fabric of local communities in order to impose a singular interpretation of freedom. This same image of a pierced wall also evokes a nostalgic longing to break out of the confinement of ones interior walls, and of social conventions, and walk out, perhaps, to a nomadic life of hunting and gathering. Wandering, when enacted in an urban space has a political undertone. The dualism returns here for the walker. As the walker cuts through habitual routes, following a personal path, S/he is soon met with verbal confinements and physical borders. This same dualism also manifests itself in the position of artists in residence. I chose to start my artistic research at the Virtual Museum Zuidas Free Spaces AIR without a premeditated plan, and with an open-ended approach where I let myself be led by chance sounds, taking regular spontaneous wanderings through the area, as a means of developing his work. This approach lets the environment express itself, enabling a reading of the psychogeography of the area and of its users form a personal and embodied perspective. But doing so requires a disengagement with the many narratives which are officially fed through the mediatized space of the new urban centre. The research period resulted in the video work Walking Through Walls, a sound piece that this video supports, and the essay The New Model City. In the video images of the shiny new business center interchange with the interiors of houses in a ruined Palestinian village. This work concluded five months of artistic research at the Virtual Museum Zuidas in Amsterdam between October 2009 and February 2010. My participation was made possible with kind support of Stroom Den Haag and FPK, and with a Startstipendium from Fonds BKVB. With thanks to Henk Heuvelmans of Muziek Centrum Nederland, Meinke Horn (VMZ), Jelle Bouwhuis (SMBA), and Chen Wagner.