Israel has made no secret of its anxiety over the historic political upheavals next door, but perhaps nothing encapsulates the nation’s collective paranoia better than Ezri Tarazi‘s furniture. Yeah, we said furniture.
Tarazi, a professor at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and founder of Tarazi Design Studio, has designed a series of military-themed furnishings that usher war into the Israeli living room. It includes sofas shaped like sandbags and tables reminiscent of a UAV’s thermal aerial shots and media consoles and bookshelves made from discarded ammunition boxes.
The collection is featured in an exhibit called Kalab, Army slang for “close to home,” and Tarazi tells us that it refers both to his childhood memories of living in Jerusalem during the Six-Day War and to the raw fear over the fate of Israel in an uncertain time. ‘The next war will not be in the desert, it will be in every home in Israel,’ Tarazi says. “It’s hard to say who will be the enemy, whether Lebanon or the Syrian Army or whoever, but their missiles will come into the home.”
He goes on: “It’s a reminder to the society in Israel. We should avoid war as much as we can.”
Of course. But a project like this risks reducing war to a series of domestic inconveniences, and in this case to a series of domestic inconveniences for the Israelis, who’ve created plenty of those for other people. Ammo-box bookshelves suggest a country under siege; Israel’s recent history suggests a country doing the balance of the besieging. As a cultural trope, Kalab falls somewhere between the duck-and-cover anxiety of our Atomic Age and an Ikea couch, with the aesthetic of the former and the moral complexity of the latter.