A life-size model Israel’s Ariel Sharon lying comatose in a hospital bed is to be unveiled in Tel Aviv later this week in a art exhibit portraying the political inertia gripping Israel. The eerily realistic model of the former prime minister lies on a hospital bed in an empty room at Tel Aviv’s Kishon art gallery, his eyes open, his sizeable stomach rising and falling as he breathes.
Only small groups of two or three are allowed to enter the darkened room, where the lone figure in blue pyjamas lies connected to a drip, in a creation by Israeli artist Noam Braslavsky.
“This man is not just a private person. He has huge influence over the lives of everyone that lives in this country,” Braslavsky told AFP.
As an artist, “it’s my right to come to this persona and to bring him back to the headlines,” he said.
On January 4, 2006, Sharon premier suffered a massive stroke and slipped into a coma from which he has never recovered, leaving behind him a gaping political vacuum.
Sharon’s collapse came five months after he embarked on a radical new path which saw him pulling out all Jewish residents and soldiers from the Gaza Strip after 38 years.
“In the middle of his political ‘swerve’ he spun off the road,” says Braslavsky, who lives in Berlin.
The unilateral move created a wave of optimism that the former hardliner could effect further Israeli withdrawals.
Since his collapse, however, peace efforts have led nowhere. At the end of 2008, Israel launched a devastating 22-day offensive in Gaza, during which the Palestinians severed all contact.
Fresh attempts to get the sides talking, which began six weeks ago, are now deadlocked by a dispute over Israeli settlements.
“Sharon’s still breathing and beating body is an allegory for the Israeli political body — a dependent and mediated existence, self-perpetuated artificially and out of inertia, with open eyes that cannot see,” wrote Tel Aviv art curator Joshua Simon in an introduction to the exhibit.
“Through its insistence on convincing elements and details in the morbid spirit of a wax museum, the exhibit enables us to rethink the political,” he wrote.