In his seven-minute film Chic Point: Fashion for Israeli Checkpoints (2003), Palestinian artist Sharif Waked introduces a slew of beautiful young men striding down a catwalk to the sound of heavy beat music, wearing “the latest in checkpoint fashion”: a tight mini black jacket that exposes a flat stomach in a sudden opening of a hidden side zipper, a white T-shirt with a large heart-shaped opening exposing most of the chest, and many more articles of designed clothing, all partially covering, but mostly exposing, the top part of the body. In her reading of this piece, Hochberg argues that in drawing attention to the body of the Palestinian who is stopped daily at Israeli checkpoints for long and humiliating searches, and resituating this body in a radically different context (fashion show, or perhaps strip show?), Waked resists common representations of the Palestinian as (always and only) a victim of military inspection, turning him instead into an object of desire well aware of his desirability. Furthermore, focusing on the most common search routine practiced by the Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint, the lifting of Palestinian shirts to ensure that they are not strapped with explosives, Waked gives this practice a new, and explicitly homoerotic, interpretation, presenting it as a means for Israeli soldiers to “check out” Palestinian men, who “dress up for the occasion.” In Waked's film, Hochberg concludes, the Israeli soldiers' treatment of the Palestinian body as a “security threat” and the Palestinian's forced cooperation function as pretexts for underlying hidden and forbidden (homoerotic) desire, here exposed as the subtext of a toxic national conflict sealed in heteronormative sexual perceptions of masculinity and its absence.
Gil Z. Hochberg; “CHECK ME OUT”: Queer Encounters in Sharif Waked's Chic Point: Fashion for Israeli Checkpoints. GLQ 1 October 2010; 16 (4): 577–597. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-2010-005
Download citation file: