The Book of Plunder

Michal Baror’s Artist Book, 2018 //
22.5×16.5 cm, 208 pages, The Center of Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv //
Book designed by Studio Gimel 2 – Nomi Geiger & Dana Gez
Editor: Chen Tamir
Cover Calligraphy: Ahmad Zoabi, Daniel Grumer


This book sums up my enquiries to date about the complex, fascinating relationship between the concept of “loot” and the artistic display object. Over the past three years, I have kept returning to the question of looting, or the ownership over objects expropriated from a person, a place, or a foreign body and integrated in their looter’s identity.
Dealing with this issue did not result from a conscious decision, but has rather secretly crept in, like a phantom (or a sense of guilt) exposing hidden aspects of projects ostensibly long completed. Hence, even though it’s an artist book, it isn’t artworks that stand at its center, but rather the concept of loot that haunts them. It’s an attempt to juxtapose the works themselves as deciphering that concept, each from its own position.
However, since the works themselves are too narrow, being made with the same artistic tools (albeit using different tactics) and by the same artist, I sought to expand and enrich the discussion. Thus, I invited four writers from several fields of thought – Elinore Darzi, Gish Amit, Kifah Abdul Halim, and Morag Kersel – who unstitch the concept of “loot” from different economic, social, and philosophical perspectives and through variegated test cases.
Although the book is published in parallel with the “Looters” exhibition at the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv, around which the question of looting has been structured, it isn’t an exhibition catalogue, but rather the ideational and material premise on which the show is based.

This book would not have materialized without the generous support of Artis, the Rabinowitz Foundation, Artport, and Mifal Hapais (Israel’s national lottery), and the dedicated work of the book’s editor and the exhibition’s curator, Chen Tamir, and that of the CCA team.

Michal Baror