Imagine yourself surrounded by eight individuals, all jabbering away at once at something or other. You'd hear bits of sentences, word fragments, syllables, spaces and breaths. Few long, well thought-out utterances would survive. Differences between the speakers' texts — and perhaps the speakers themselves — would fall away. The counterpoint would be almost musical. That's the feeling you'll get visiting Shimon Attie's MetroPAL.IS., an eight-screen HD video installation on display at UConn's Benton Museum until Dec. 16. Attie scripted a hybrid speech, adapting segments of the Israeli Declaration of Independence from 1948 with the Palestinian Declaration of Independence from 1988. He then filmed 24 individuals from both communities reading passages of the script. The effect is a softening of the hard edges between Palestinian and Israeli identities in favor of their new, shared boundaries as New Yorkers. Whether or not you agree with the premise doesn't matter; we could all use new ways of thinking about the crisis in the Middle East. And that's what great art is capable of.
Shimon Attie: MetroPAL.IS.
ends Dec. 16, artist reception Nov. 4, 2-4:30 p.m., William Benton Museum of Art, 245 Glenbrook Road, U-2140, Storrs, (860) 486-4520, thebenton.org.