Jeremy Hutchison

Oslo, 2011

A tourist inserts a carton of Palestinian milk into Israeli supermarkets, and tries to buy it.

According to the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israeli milk can be sold in Palestine, but Palestinian milk cannot be sold in Israel. In this work, the explosive politics of the Middle East hinge around a simple carton of milk. The tension of East Jerusalem transforms a symbol of maternal care into something highly toxic.

At the checkout, the Arabic packaging produces stupefied responses that range from bewildered disbelief to concerns of a major security breach. If any consumer product is a portrait of its socio-economic conditions, here the fraught context of East Jerusalem transforms a symbol of maternal care into something highly toxic.

As heated discussions erupt in each store, the tourist asks employees what the problem is, and where the milk comes from. The other place. Over there, they respond. Not only is this milk Palestinian, it is also produced in the territory’s most disputed site: Hebron. This city houses the tomb of Abraham. It is therefore the scene of daily violence between Arab civilians and Israeli settlers, both claiming rights to the land.

The title of this work refers to the Oslo Accords: a set of agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. In principle, these marked the start of a new peace process, but have subsequently been criticised for their unilateral Israeli bias. The embargo placed on Palestinian milk is symbolic of this inequity.

Commissioned by Al-Mahatta Gallery (Ramallah)
Presented at Qalandiya International Biennale (Jerusalem)

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