Israeli, born 1966
90 x 144 cm
Gift of Gary B. Sokol, San Francisco
© The artist
Accession number: B02.0218
What appears to be a routine photograph of soldiers eating is, in fact, a carefully staged scene showing Nes’s characteristic attention to detail. It was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, depicting one of the most dramatic moments in the story of Christ: the announcement of Judas’s betrayal, which led to the Crucifixion, the ultimate sacrifice.
In Israeli society and art, the soldier is often represented as an object of reverence. Brave and confident, he is the heir to mythical figures like the pioneer. Nes chooses to emphasize the youthfulness of the soldiers, in transition from adolescence to adulthood, from innocence to disenchantment. They face the greatest danger of all, the risk of dying in battle. Nes’s analogy between the iconic Christian scene and Israeli reality conveys a political message regarding commitment and sacrifice. Like Christ’s apostles, the soldiers are disciples of an ideology, a power stronger than themselves. But they are also victims of a geopolitical constellation over which they have no control. The bullet holes in the wall, cigarette smoke, and bitten apple are symbols of transience, reminding us that this might indeed be their last supper.