MOLATHAM by Scott Caruth
19.75 x 16cm, 152 pages, Full colour printed, Sewn & glue bound, Softcover, 2019
“In Arabic molatham literally translates to “to cover up one’s face,” but within the context of the occupied West Bank, where the omnipresence of photographic surveillance is an extension of Israeli state violence, molatham is Palestinian vernacular for “resisting the Israeli occupation.”
This beautifully bound and printed volume by Scott Caruth is a thoughtful meditation on the political implications of image making, its weaponization by the Israeli army, the “terrorist/victim polarity” of photo-journalism, and the liberatory potential of studio portrait photography.
Through transcribed interviews and the artist’s own analysis, a socio-political context of agency and defiance is revealed in the kitsch of palm tree studio backdrops (now aspirational positioning) and awkward hand-to-chin posing (now an exercise in identity creation), repositioning what was once personal into political icon.