Griet Dobbels

– The Cow and the Goat 2023

The key topics in the work of Griet Dobbels include the landscape, border regions, nature and culture and how we handle them. She likes to use contrasts to strive for an objectifying position.

For her contribution to Watou, Dobbels uses the dialectics of the human and the non-human by juxtaposing and interconnecting landscapes, border regions, farmers, animals, areas, ways of observing, artists and cameras. The cow and the goat provide the objectifying view in her video.

Dobbels connects a farmer and his cow from Watou with a farmer and his goat from Al-Masara near Bethlehem, Palestine. Both their regions are situated on a border in an evolving landscape. Both regions bear the marks of historic friction. One landscape bears witness to the events around the Great War some 100 years ago. The other still bears the consequences of a decision taken in that same period, the 1917 Balfour Declaration, in which the British government expressed its support for “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.

The farmers in both regions are threatened in their very existence for different political, economic and ecological reasons. In both cases, the supposedly quiet or natural and original landscape is characterised by an everyday reality that is lightyears removed from that, albeit from a different starting point.

In relation to these contrasts, Dobbels asks herself a series of questions.

Can the animals display the hidden frictions in the landscape? Does a strong focus on the small and local aspect enable us to take a broader and therefore different view? How do farmers relate to the landscape, to their land? How does the local farmer work in the context of the current ecological decisions in densely populated Western Europe and, by contrast, how does the Palestinian farmer fare in occupied territory? What is the significance of land? How do they deal with changing ecological and geopolitical situations? Do they see a future? Is there a future?

By placing a camera on the heads of the cow and the goat, Dobbels has them record their respective landscapes. The images of both points of view are combined thanks to a text by Lotte Dodion. This text took shape in a joint search for equivalence through images, words, language and sound, even before the images were edited.

Thanks to the Al-Ma’mal Foundation (Jerusalem) and farmers Wouter Pety and Abdullah Zawahre and their respective families.

°1964, Roeselare

Griet Dobbels (1964, Roeselare) works in Nazareth (B). She searches for invisible lines in the landscape and translates them into drawings, video installations, sculptures or performances. She works with (apparent) contradictions: culture nature, local global, chaos control. In terms of both content and form, she seeks out boundaries and strives for an objectifying position.

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