Interview with Iranian/Australian Writer & Actor Osamah Sami by Kyriaki Maragozidis. Originally broadcast 13/6/16 Live to Air on Voiceprint Arts, Three D Radio 93.7fm in South Australia.
Interview with Iranian/Australian Writer & Actor Osamah Sami by Kyriaki Maragozidis. Originally broadcast 13/6/16 Live to Air on Voiceprint Arts, Three D Radio 93.7fm in South Australia.
by Julia Wakefield
Following its sold out premiere Melbourne season in 2014, Tales of a City by the Sea opened at The Bakehouse Theatre this week. The author is Palestinian/Australian/Canadian writer Samah Sabawi. She describes her work as ‘a poetic journey into the ordinary lives of people living in abnormal circumstances and their struggle to survive’.
The play grew out of a collection of poetry that Sabawi wrote while she was in Gaza during the three week bombardment of 2008/2009, prompted by her own experiences and those of her friends and family. She says she is not trying to put across a political message. Although this is a story based on real life events that took place during Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2008, its main purpose is to highlight the resilience and compassion that people display in such dire circumstances. In this current era of global conflict and confusion, there are many places featured in news bulletins that are enduring similar situations. Sabawi wants us to see ‘the detail of daily lives of people they see for brief seconds on the news’.
The play was originally directed by Lech Mackiewicz, and the current director is Wahibe Moussa. When it opened in Melbourne the plan was to have two simultaneous performances on the West Bank and in Gaza. The play was performed on the West Bank a week later; the script has been read in Gaza but as yet there has been no opportunity to perform the play there.
In the main characters of the play, Jomana and Rami, we see another theme: the gulf between the Palestinian diaspora (those whose families escaped from Gaza and who have grown up in an affluent, privileged society), and the same generation who remain trapped in Gaza. Jomana lives in Gaza, Rami is a doctor raised in Texas by refugee Palestinian parents. They are in love, but in order to enter each other’s world they have no choice but to abandon their families and the reality they grew up in.
The play ideally suits the intimate atmosphere of the Bakehouse Theatre. Scenes are evoked with the simplest of props, and Sabawi’s poetry slips seamlessly into the characters’ dialogue, serving to highlight emotional moments. In some places it appears as a passionate soliloquy, as in Rami’s heart rending speech “what price a life?” But it is also there in the play’s frequent humorous moments, such as the Dr Zeuss style banter that Rami exchanges with his mother. This reference to a familiar Western poetic style serves to emphasize the gap between Rami’s and Jomana’s upbringing. We realise that Rami, in spite of his heritage, has more experience in common with the audience than he has with Jomana. The contrast is cleverly portrayed in a particularly riveting scene where Jomana is conversing with her father in Gaza, while Rami is simultaneously speaking to his mother in Texas, on either side of a dining table.. Read more
Adelaide Theatre Guide
June 11, 2016
This is a tale of conflict and survival told principally through the stories of two couples during the 2008 Gaza war.
Jomana (Helen Sawires) is a Palestinian journalist in Gaza who meets American born Palestinian doctor, Rami, (Osamah Sami) who arrives on board one of small boats that breaks the Israeli blockade.
Ali (Reece Vella) and Lama (Emina Ashman) are residents of Gaza. He loves her but she’s unsure whether to marry him or not.
The play traces the development of these two relationships amid the death and destruction that is everyday life in Gaza.
Samah Sabawi has created a potent narrative that brims with raw examples of the reality of living under a hostile authority. She explores relationships and family values in a place where people fight to retain some sense of normality amid the daily death toll; where “funerals and weddings have become part of daily life”. Read more
The play Tales of a City by the Sea is a unique and poetic journey into the lives of ordinary people in the besieged Gaza strip prior to, during and after its bombardment during the winter of 2008. Jomana, a Palestinian woman who lives in the Shati (beach) refugee camp in Gaza falls in love with Rami, an American born Palestinian doctor and activist who arrives on the first Free Gaza boats in 2008. Their love is met with many challenges forcing Rami to make incredible decisions the least of which is to take a dangerous journey through the underground tunnels that connect Gaza to Egypt. Although on the surface this love story appears to explore the relationship between diaspora Palestinians and Palestinians under occupation, there is a broader and more universal theme that emerges – one of human survival and tenacity. Tales of a City by the Sea avoids political pitfalls, ideological agendas and clichés by focusing on the human story of the people in Gaza. Although the play’s characters are fictional, the script is based on real life events and is a product of a collection of real stories the author Samah Sabawi and her family have experienced during the events of the past several years. Sabawi has written most of the poetry in the play during the three-week bombardment of Gaza in 2008/2009.
The writer Samah Sabawi is a Palestinian-Canadian-Australian published writer, commentator and playwright. She has travelled the world and lived in its far corners, yet always felt as though she was still trapped in her place of birth Gaza. The war torn besieged and isolated strip has shaped her understanding of her identity and her humanity. So what else could Sabawi do but to indulge in Gaza’s overwhelming presence and to succumb to tell the stories of her loved ones back home. Her most recent play Tales of a City by the Sea is dedicated to them and to all of those who still manage to have faith and hope even as the sky rains death and destruction.
The script is available to interested theatre makers upon request. Please email email@example.com for more information.
Follow Samah Sabawi on Twitter @gazaheart
Samah Sabawi’s professional bio can be found here
For more information on Samah Sabawi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samah_Sabawi
Ramzi Aburedwan was one such child, who grew up in the refugee camp of Al Amari near Ramallah. At the tender age of 8, he witnessed his best friend being killed during an Israeli military operation. He then found himself throwing stones during the first Intifada and as a street combatant Aburedwan seemed destined for an Israeli prison or a Palestinian martyr’s poster. But fate decided to intervene.
At 17, he was invited to a music workshop in Al Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah, where he fell in love with the art and started to learn to play the viola. Replacing stones with a musical instrument led to a journey of channelling his anger into creativity and of personal transformation.
After studying for a year at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (ESNCM) in Ramallah and thereafter attending a summer workshop in the United States — at the Apple Hill Centre for Chamber Music of New Hampshire — he enrolled at the Conservatoire National de Region d’Angers.
In 2000 Ramzi created the ensemble “Dal’Ouna”, music that symbolised the link between East and West. It flowed from an encounter between Palestine and France, from the melting of pure traditional Middle Eastern songs with mixed jazzy compositions, played on Western classical musical instruments (viola, violin, clarinet, flute, guitar, piano), and traditional Eastern instruments (bouzouk, oud, darbouka, bendir, etc).
In 2005, he was awarded the “DEM” gold medal for viola, chamber music and music theory. While in France, he also learnt to play the piano.
Yearning to share his knowledge and experience, and inspire a new generation of Palestinians, by helping their anger and frustrations find musical expression, Aburedwan established Al Kamandjâti (The Violin) in October 2002. It was to be the place where Palestinian children and youth could learn music and develop their culture.
In August 2005, Riwaq, the Palestinian architectural organisation engaged in conservation and rehabilitation, completed the renovation of the Al Kamandjâti Music Centre in the old city of Ramallah and it was here that Aburedwan launched his nonprofit musical enterprise, funded mainly by European donors.
Taking music to the people, Al Kamandjâti set up music schools for Palestinian children in various cities, villages and refugee camps. These music schools offer children the opportunity to learn to play music, to discover their cultural heritage as well as other musical cultures, but above all to explore their creative potential.
In addition, Al Kamandjâti produces numerous concerts and several music festivals throughout the year as part of its mission to bring music to all Palestinians.
Aburedwan explains the rationale: “Perhaps the least recognised effect of the violent Israeli occupation on the lives of Palestinian people is the undermining of culture, art and leisure. When a regime wants to weaken a people, it uses psychological, cultural and physical means. It attempts to erase tangible evidence of that people’s unique cultural heritage. Our struggle must be cultural and militant, artistic and political, and economic. But on no account should we forget the primary reason behind the projects and activities led by Al Kamandjâti, which is to educate children, who suffer most from the unjust politico-economic situation.
“We cannot afford to sit back and wait for favourable political decisions which would establish a Palestinian State,” he says. “We must proactively work on galvanising Palestinian cultural life. We must give our children the opportunity to think beyond soldiers and tanks. They must think creatively, not about the destruction of their country, but about rebuilding their way of life and future.”
In the West Bank, Al Kamandjâti today provides music training to around 500 students in places such as the Al Amari, Jalazon, Qalandiah and Qaddura refugee camps, the village of Deir Ghassana, the old cities of Ramallah and Jenin, and in Tulkarem.
Since 2005, Al Kamandjâti, with ten French musicians, has also organised annual music workshops in the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon, where, today, they have 60 students at Bourj el Barajneh and Shatilla.
In Palestine, Al Kamandjâti employs 22 musicians who teach violin, viola, cello, guitar, flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, trombone, trumpet, saxophone, piano, accordion, oud, nay, Arabic percussion, orchestra, singing, harmony, choir, improvisation and music theory.
“Music is a universal language,” Aburedwan says. “We encourage Palestinians to use this artistic tool to harmonise and enrich their cultural life, promoting international awareness and recognition of the Palestinian nation.
“Through music, Al Kamandjâti seeks to show that education and culture can transcend and overcome the Israeli violence from which Palestinians suffer,” he adds. “Learning music provides children with a form of expression to channel their energy creatively and constructively. Are not today’s children tomorrow’s adults? Classical music is, for the children, a discovery. We introduce each one to an instrument. Moreover, these workshops enable children to gather in a disciplined setting, whether as neighbours or friends or new acquaintances”.
Many young international musicians have been working at Al Kamandjâti, discovering music and a practical approach to mastering various instruments with Palestinian children. Jason Crompton came from New Jersey four years ago to visit his sister in occupied Jerusalem and after learning about Al Kamandjâti, he stayed on to teach piano and conduct the orchestra. He learnt Arabic to communicate with the children and eventually married a fellow teacher from Italy, Madeleine, who teaches the flute and also works with UNRWA schools in the refugee camps around Ramallah. They have a child and now live in Ramallah.
“The feeling of sharing in the musical experience with anyone who wishes to indulge is special and we believe that we belong here,” Crompton says.
Their story lends credence to the oft-held belief that music transcends both borders and barriers. At Al Kamandjâti, it has been an enriching experience for both the Palestinian children and the teachers of many nationalities.
Not only does Al Kamandjâti teach Palestinian children how to play music, it also teaches some of them how to repair, maintain and tune instruments.
Shehadeh, a young man who has been involved in setting up a local lute-making workshop, spent three months in Italy with stringed-instrument makers who had previously been to Palestine, learning to repair and make instruments. Today his workshop adjoins the Al Kamandjâti building in Ramallah.
Al Kamandjâti organises The Music Days Festival in June, in partnership with the French Cultural Centres Network. The festival lasts 12 days and takes place in more than ten Palestinian cities. A Baroque Music Festival follows in December and various churches in the cities of the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem host it.
Al Kamandjâti also engages in exchange programmes abroad with partner organisations. Some students have been given the opportunity to take part in music workshops abroad to improve their technical skills. Khalil, the coordinator, explains, “We had nine students who completed their scholarships in France last year — in violin, percussion, bass, clarinet and guitar, and two of them learnt how to fix string-section instruments.
“We have two blind brothers, Mohammad and Jihad, who today teach percussion and oud at the Helen Keller Centre in [occupied] Jerusalem,” he adds.
Today, Al Kamandjâti stands for Aburedwan’s transformation from a stone-pelter to a viola player and his dream of sharing his knowledge and experience with his people, bringing joy to the children growing up in refugee camps and under occupation.
This article appeared on http://www.albawaba.com/entertainment/palestine-camps-music-479027
By Samah Sabawi
Gaza is one of the most reported on and yet least understood places on earth. Its mere mention conjures up images of war victims, war criminals, piles of rubble, militants with guns, dead children and weeping mothers. A simple google search will bring up disturbing images of heart break, terror and destruction. But all of this is an infliction on a place that has neither surrendered its identity nor lost its beauty to decades of violent Israeli occupation.
Gaza is a city of many tales. While some are about loss, grief and misery, many others are about enduring love, triumphant moments, tenacity, passion, music and hope that lives beyond the confines of the siege and the occupation. If you dig deeper than the negative headlines and the devastating news reports you will find many pleasant surprises. You can take a walk along Gaza’s gorgeous fields, enjoy its magical sunsets, get to know its warm people, visit its ancient sites and eat its delicious dishes. You will find in Gaza everything that would make you love life with a passion! So join me here to explore some of Gaza’s unknown side.
There is a common belief that Gaza’s art scene is all but dead. While it may be true that art in general is not a great priority for the people in Gaza who are too concerned with bigger financial and political issues, Gazan artists continue to create and to excel in their fields. There is also an appreciation of the need to encourage art in children starting from a young age.
One establishment worthy of salutation for supporting the arts is the Qattan Centre for the Child in Gaza. This cultural centre is an oasis for the hearts and the minds of children. Equipped with a large library painted in vibrant colors and comfortable eye soothing furniture the QCC in Gaza focuses on developing the children emotionally and intellectually through visual art, music, education, cultural events and much more.
Below are some images of the QCC in Gaza. Keep in mind all of the paintings you’ll see in some of these photos were in fact painted by children under 15 years of age at the centre.
The Qattan center was built on land donated by the Gaza municipality and has succeeded in meeting its goal of creating an educational and stimulating space for children and their caregivers. Parents are encouraged to join their children in the library, engage with them over art and craft activities, or just watch them proudly as they perform their song and dance routines.
Membership at the QCC is free of charge to all children in Gaza from all walks of life and some of the classes offered charge a small symbolic fee. Many of the events are also free of charge such as the concerts captured in the video below that took place as part of the winter camp activities in January 2013. In this video below you’ll see a variety of instruments, you’ll hear music of both Arab and western origins ranging from Gershwin to Darweesh.
Also worthy of special salutation is the Gaza Music School and its incredible teachers and talented children. The children featured in the next video are nine years of age. They are very dedicated to the art they practice in spite of all the challenges they face including Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Music School in 2009.
The Gaza Strip is densely populated mostly by refugees who fled Israel’s war of ethnic cleansing in 1948 and have not been allowed to return to their homes since. As the population continues to grow in the besieged strip the natural landscape changes to make way for more cement structures and buildings to accommodate this growth.
However, population growth is not the only challenge facing Gaza’s green spaces. Agricultural land is shrinking as Israel usurps more of Gaza’s water supplies and if that’s not enough, Israel’s siege, blockade, frequent bombardment and occasional land incursions have left their mark on many of Gaza’s farming land. A recommended report that sheds great light on this is the UNISPAL report Farming without Land, Fishing without Water.
Below are two pics of bombed trees in our farm in Gaza. The first depicts a tree totally uprooted from the power of a one ton bomb blast. The second photo depicts a tree that was uprooted from the blast, flew in the air and actually landed straight on top of another tree.
Despite all of the challenges and the uncertainties of Israel’s incursions and bombings, some farmers have insisted on maintaining their land. When visiting their farms you get a sense of what Gaza’s landscape looked like before Israel’s war of ethnic cleansing began. You can imagine how before the refugees were chased into the far corners of their homeland to settle into camps under occupation, how most of Gaza’s natural landscape would have looked like.
Perhaps the most important feature of Gaza is its sea. It is the only landscape that remains unchanged, unaffected by the occupation and the aggression. The sea is an open recreational space that is free of charge. For Gazan families the sea is a cure for all of life’s problems.
Finally, no matter where you go to in Palestine, you will always be overwhelmed with warm hospitality and great food. Gaza is no different. Here are some pics of some of my favourite dishes, but if you’re looking for a more comprehensive list along with recepies I highly recommend you visit The Gaza Kitchen. Bon appétit or as they say in Gaza Saha we afya!
Palestinian artists at this year’s Venice Biennale showcase installations tackling issues such as alienation, identity and conflict.
Monday 11 Mar 2013
‘Otherwise Occupied’, an exhibition of Palestinian artwork at the 55th edition of the prestigious Venice Biennale, will be held from 29 May until 30 June, presenting a neutral space in which Palestinian artists can showcase their art.
The exhibition is organised by The Palestinian Art Court (Al Hoash), a Jerusalem based non-profit organization seeking to develop Palestinian visual arts as a tool for expression and communication, and curated by Bruce Ferguson, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science at the American University in Cairo. Bruce Ferguson and Al Hoash director Rawan Sharaf, will feature the work of two globally acclaimed Palestinian artists; Bashir Makhoul and Aissa Deebi as part of the exhibition.
“’Otherwise Occupied’ describes other ways of imagining the nation outside and beyond the conflict; it is therefore a means of artistic and critical thinking through the de-territorialization of Palestine,” reads the curatorial statement.
Both Palestine-born artists have emigrated, yet continue to create artwork abroad that somehow redefines their roots. Both artists are “in continuous search of new ways to imagine the nation from a distance,” according to the the press release.
UK based artist and head of the Winchester School of Arts at Southampton University, Bashir Makhoul, will exhibit a large-scale installation project entitled “Giardino Occupato” at this year’s Venice Biennale. Thousands of cardboard boxes, assembled by members of the public during the show, will be shown in the garden of the Liceo Artistico Statale di Venezia, simulating a shanty town, or refugee camp, probing questions regarding the spaces and shelters that have emerged in the wake of conflict and occupation.
While Makhloul is occupied with raising questions about the impact of war on the livelihoods of people, his work often offers political critiques on various issues, Aissa Deebi is more concerned with issues of cultural-migration, his work investigating notions of alienation and identity. Deebi is based between Cairo and New York, and is currently the Director of the Visual Cultures Program at the American University in Cairo.
In ‘Otherwise Occupied‘, Deebi exhibits a series of drawings, and an installation recreating a speech by the Palestinian citizen of Israel, Daoud Turki, who tried “to advance an idea against the paranoid Zionist fantasy of conflict toward the larger idea of a socialist class struggle, proclaiming solidarity with ‘…all workers, peasants and those persecuted in Israeli society.'”
This article first appeared here .
Roughly 600 Gazan artists held a conference in Gaza City on Feb. 28 to form a new Palestinian artists’ union in a bid to preserve their work. The gathering of the General Union of Palestinian Artists is the first of its kind to be held in Gaza in two decades.
“I can tell you that many of those who attended had tears [in their eyes] because it was the first time we held such a gathering, which, we hope, will constitute the beginning of organized artistic activities across the territory,” Almeghari said.
Wars with Israel and political infighting between Hamas and Fatah have resulted in a lack of interest in Gaza’s art scene as well as funding for it. As a consequence, musicians in the Gaza Strip face significant challenges, including a dearth of professional training and fellow professional musicians.
Dwindling art in Gaza
In 1986, Mohammad Abu al-Seoud, a 50-year-old local musician in the central Gaza Strip town of Deir Elbalah, began composing and writing melodies for patriotic songs, but the veteran composer stopped working in 2004, citing a lack of support from authorities.
“I have spent all my life in music, and I have performed many melodies, even on Palestine TV prior to the 2007 political split in Gaza. Yet, I have increasingly felt disappointed as the musical scene in Gaza has become worse than ever, mainly because of the lack of music schools and professional training,” Seoud told Al-Monitor at his modest family home.
One band that took part in the conference was the National Band for Folkloric Palestinian Arts, which is one of the few leading national bands in the occupied Gaza Strip that primarily performs patriotic songs.
“Our band was established in 1996, and since then it has taken part in a series of performances locally and regionally, including festivals in Haifa, which was a Palestinian city prior to 1948, as well as in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia,” said Walid Ataiya, the band’s deputy director. The band consists of 35 members, including 7 women between the ages of 18 and 25, who perform the folkloric Levantine dabka dance.
In addition to producing new content, the band also revives famous Palestinian nationalist poetry, such as the late Mahmoud Darwish’s “We Can Never Forget Our Ancestors, We Can Never Forget the Days of Dignity,” Ataiya explained. The band’s ability to perform in Gaza, however, has been routinely disrupted since 2006 due to the political climate.
Fatah-Hamas split harms music scene
According to Swailam Alabsi, a well-known scenarist and film director in Gaza, the composition of patriotic songs has suffered because of a lack of patronage by the relevant authorities, as well as the absence of music schools, as reported by Asmaa al-Ghoul.
Patriotic music, once a hallmark of Palestine’s national resistance movement, has fractured along factional lines, according to Alabsi. “I personally have written hundreds of patriotic songs since 1967. The songs used to promote national trends, but since the Oslo peace accords, unfortunately, patriotic songs have begun to appear in different forms and colors, each representing a political faction,” he said.
Regardless, the national band continues to write patriotic songs that “only go with the national aspirations of the Palestinian people,” Alabsi explained.
“Even in the time of Oslo itself, I personally composed a song that was anti-Palestinian Authority corruption during the time of late President Yasser Arafat himself. Arafat told me, ‘Do not worry Swailam, the situation will get better,’” he said.
The internal split among Palestinian factions resulted in the national band being used as a political weapon of Hamas and Fatah. The band has faced restrictions in Gaza and an attempted takeover by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
“We have been facing lots of restrictions from local authorities here. For instance, they will not allow us to broadcast a certain song on a local radio station, or they prevent a certain singer from performing a certain song. We want real patronage of patriotic clips or songs that reflect the national Palestinian scene independent of any political affiliation,” Alabsi said while calling for Hamas and Fatah to repair their differences.
Nahed al-Hour, director of the national band, revealed that PA President Mahmoud Abbas had issued a decree three years ago to place the band under the auspices of the Ramallah-based authority.
“So far, such a decree has not seen the light for reasons that we do not know,” he said, appealing to all parties concerned to support his band and respect its non-partisan stance.
Union brings hope
The formation of the new union is in response to the neglect and politicization of Gaza’s art scene. Among the recommendations are, according to Almeghari, establishing acting and music schools in Gaza, having musicians and actors participate in festivals abroad to represent Palestinian art and folklore, and holding local shows at public theaters to generate much-needed income for the continued development of the arts in Gaza.
Almeghari emphasized that those elected at the conference will represent the Gaza union at an upcoming general summit for the Palestinian arts, to be held in either Ramallah or Gaza. The new union is part of a growing movement of grassroots Palestinians frustrated with the continued political division between Hamas and Fatah negatively affecting Palestinian life.
“We deeply hope that the current political split will come to an end once and for all and that we Palestinian artists will have our own home for all of us, irrespective of political affiliations,” Almeghari said.
Editor’s note: Yusuf Almeghari is a relative of the author.
Rami Almeghari is an independent journalist based in Gaza.
This article appeared here http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/03/gaza-forms-new-artist-union.html#ixzz2MPpx3o1P
Published Thursday, February 14, 2013
The award-winning Palestinian novelist Adania Shibli interviewed 15 up-and-coming Palestinian artists for her new book, Hirak, orMovement.
Jerusalem – Between 1999 and 2009, 15 Palestinian artists passed through the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris (CIAP), which offers residencies to artists from around the world to work in the city for a period of two months to a year.
This is where Palestinian novelist Adania Shibli got the idea for her latest book, Hirak. Using video conferencing, she interviewed the group of Palestinian artists who were offered residencies at the CIAP.
The book, available in both Arabic and French, probes questions at the heart of the Palestinian experience such as occupation, exile, and the state of constant movement to which the artists are subjected.
The Palestinians featured in the book are sculptors, painters, and installation and video artists. One of them is painter Hani Zorob, born 1976, whose experience in many ways captures that of a new generation of Palestinian artists.
“My place of birth in the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza greatly influenced my life overall. Growing up during the first intifada, the resources available to a child interested in art were very limited,” he said. “My canvas was the walls of the city, especially on national occasions. My tools were either a pencil or the shabby wax crayons distributed by UNRWA.”He remembers being overwhelmed the first time he entered an art store in Paris. “I didn’t buy anything because there were so many things I hadn’t seen before and had no idea how to use them.”
As for Shadi Zaqzouq, born 1981, he raised the issue of how foreign audiences tend to interact with Palestinian art as “political production.”
He began to think about the issue after successfully selling every single one of his pieces displayed at his exhibit titled “Merely a Dream.” When he discovered that most of his works were bought by people who actively support the Palestinian cause, it made him wonder whether this meant that he was a good artist.
Artist Majd Abdul-Hamid, born 1988, had a similar experience while attending the International Academy of Art in Ramallah.
“I noticed there were a lot of foreign artists who come to work with students at the academy due to the fact that we are Palestinians,” he said. “None of these instructors critiqued my work based on its appearance – they took it easy on me because I was a Palestinian student.”
This article first appeared here
The children of the Gaza Music School performing to a French and Egyptian delegation early January 2013. The boys in this clip are around 9 years of age. According to Qattan Foundation’s website, the Gaza Music School (GMS) was established “in response to growing demand for music education voiced by children and parents who attend the Qattan Center for the Child (QCC) in Gaza City, one of the A. M. Qattan Foundation’s main projects.” The Gaza Music School was completely destroyed by Israel during its attack on Gaza in 2008 and was rebuilt since then. A testimony to the resilience of the Palestinian people. To find out more information about the school and Qattan Foundation visit the following linkhttp://www.qattanfoundation.org/subpage/en/gms.asp?sectionID=654
Aissa Deebi & Bashir Makhoul
29 May–30 June 2013
Venice Biennale 2013
55th International Art Exhibition
Palestine has been occupied for so long it is no longer a spatio-temporal entity but a construction of the imaginary: a national designation that includes a far-flung diaspora, a huge population of refugees, as well as members of an indeterminate territorial authority under occupation and even a large number of Israeli citizens. There exist simultaneously no Palestinian state and many Palestinian states. It is the quintessence of Benedict Anderson’s classic formulation of nationhood as ‘imagined communities.’
Both artists, Makhoul and Deebi, were originally born inside the 1948 borders, in the margins of another state in their homeland and outside the occupied West Bank and the centres of contemporary Palestinian culture, and have immigrated to live elsewhere. In order to get closer to Palestine, to engage in new ways of thinking or imagining the nation, it is perhaps necessary to live at a distance from it.
Al Hoash is a Jerusalem based nonprofit Palestinian organization that seeks the development and elevation of the status of visual arts as a substantial and critical tool for communication, innovation, pleasure, free expression and national pride. Its work is based on the belief that the visual arts play a vital role in promoting the welfare, development and independent creative spirit of all people.
Al Hoash’s mission is to provide and sustain a knowledge-based platform for Palestinians to express, explore, realize and strengthen their national and cultural identity through visual practice. Visual culture can be utilized to analyze, research and explore the formation and transformation of our collective and individual memory in the process of producing identity.
Londoners will soon be able to get off the tube at King’s Cross and walk into a Palestinian refugee camp.
They will be able to meet some of the 12,000 descendants of the 750,000 Palestinians forced to flee their homeland in the wake of the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
The people of Shatila camp are squeezed into one square kilometre. The labyrinthine alleyways are plastered with posters and inscribed with graffiti and street art.
You enter the home of Mariam, a 90-year-old woman who is propped up in bed. She tells her family’s story, part of the story of the Nakba (The Catastrophe – the Palestinian displacement).
You can call in on Hassan, sitting in his shrine contemplating the history that has brought him here, fingering a string of blue prayer beads as he explains his eclectic collection of objects – Muslim and Christian, secular and religious, prayer beads, crucifixes, icons, clay pots and seashells, all illuminated by fairy lights.
Or you can meet three generations of the Al-Awwal family: Rasheed, 42, his mother, sitting regally in her armchair, and his son, Abdul.
All this is possible through an interactive touch-screen tour of Shatila soon to be unveiled at Europe’s first Palestinian gallery, which opens in October.
“Palestinian artists are not widely recognised,” says the gallery’s communications and events officer, Sami Metwasi. “They are isolated. This gallery will give them a chance to be presented to the world.”
He says the Palestinian image “has been polluted during the years of struggle and conflict”, and the exhibitions and activities will help highlight its people’s rich, diverse culture.
“It is always after others see the high quality of our art and culture that their respect for Palestine grows. We Palestinians are not just victims of injustice but a living culture worthy of admiration and respect.
“What is wonderful about it and about our people is that even under the most terrible circumstances of occupation, exile and war we have not only kept our cultural heritage alive but created new cultural output of such high quality to earn its place among world class modern art and culture.”
Another aim, he says, is to communicate with British culture, to build bridges and to give an opportunity to British people to explore Palestinian culture.
“We are not a traditional gallery with traditional divides and barriers between installations and users,” notes Metwasi. “Rather, we aim to use this modern space to bring people together and to bridge gaps between Palestinians and locals.”
It will also be a centre for Britain’s Palestinian community, estimated at 75,000.
The gallery’s original sponsor was the Prince of Sharjah, Sheikh Sultan al-Qassimi, who funded it through the London-based Palestine Return Centre. It is now an independent entity.
The gallery has already started work, with activities that include creative workshops for teenagers and, on 26-27 June, performances by a group of youngsters from a camp in Bethlehem who tell their stories through photographs, images and dance, “proving that talent can bloom in the most difficult conditions of life in exile and under occupation”.
* The Palestine Gallery, 21-27 Chalton Street, NW1. Tel: 0207 121 6190
Original article appeared here
Published on Nov 15, 2012 by Euronews
http://www.euronews.com/ Qalandiya, the first ever Palestinian Contemporary Art Biennale has been held in Ramallah. One of the most popular displays was a pop art-inspired needlework portrait is of Mohamed Bouazizi, the market stall holder who sparked the beginning of the Arab Spring when he burned himself to death in protest at being rough-handled by the police.
The biennial took its name from one of the most famous symbols of Palestinian separation, the Israeli checkpoint at Qalandiya, which is one of the main crossing points between the West Bank and Israel.
Displaying art installations in hard-to-access Palestinian villages scattered across the West Bank was a gamble, but it worked. People flocked to the Abwein village for a day packed with art and fun.
Using villages as art galleries, and borrowing its name from a crowded refugee camp and Israeli military checkpoint, Qalandiya International was a chance for Palestinian artists of the West Bank, Jerusalem, Israel and Gaza to get together and overcome their politically fragmented world.
Jerusalem artist, Jumana Manna’s short movie was inspired by a 1942 picture of a high society masquerade hosted by Palestinian politician Alfred Roch, a reenactment that has won Manna the festival’s “Young Artist of the Year” award.
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Sunday, 04 November 2012
Palestinian artists showcased their art work at West Bank’s Qalandia International Festival on Thursday framed as part of a creative reaction to the Israeli barrier that separates Palestinian villages from each other.
Israel has said the barrier, a mix of electronic fences and walls that encroaches on West Bank territory, is meant to keep suicide bombers out of its cities.
Palestinians call the barrier — whose course encompasses Israeli settlements in the West Bank — a disguised move to annex or fragment territory Palestinians seek for a viable state.
The International court of Justice declared the planned 600-km (370-mile) barrier, more than half of which is completed, illegal but Israel has ignored the non-binding ruling.
Qalandia International Festival Art Director, Jack Persekian, said it was an important way for Palestinians to channel their emotional reactions to the barrier.
“The wall and the road that was constructed recently connect the Israeli settlements together and separate the Palestinian villages from each other. The reaction to this separation was a cultural festival. It is an important and a good reaction — it shows a positive, artistic and cultural spirit in a painful situation that should be stopped,” he said.
The festival, which showcases Palestinian contemporary art projects, performances, films, and other cultural activities, kicked off on Thursday at Qalandia village northern of Jerusalem and ends on November 15.
According to the festival’s organizers, over 50 local and International artists came together for the launch of Qalandia International, ‘a milestone contemporary art event’.
Palestinian artist Khaled Jarar screened his 2 minutes film at the festival. His film, too, addresses barrier issues and Palestinians’ reactions to it.
“I went to the wall and I cut out some pieces of it. I smashed them then I mixed them with cement and water and I made a ball which children play with. My message is that the wall is an ugly thing, so we should seek out ways in which to use it and the occupation for our benefit,” he told Reuters television.
The festival was organized by seven Palestinian institutions- Riwaq, Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, A. M. Qattan Foundation, Palestinian Art Court – Al Hoash, International Art Academy – Palestine, Sakakini Cultural Centre and the House of Culture Arts – Nazareth.
Palestinian band ‘Dar Qandeel’ performed traditional and modern music at the festival’s opening ceremony and people from various Palestinian villages and cities as well as Internationals came to attend.
Yara Bayoumi, a visitor at the festival, said the cooperation involved in hosting such a festival was wonderful.
“The festival is very nice. It is the first of its kind in Palestine. It is the first time seven organizations have worked together to organize such a festival. I hope it will have a good effect, and put Palestine in the world’s contemporary art,” she said.
The festival is expected to tour Jerusalem and other West Bank cities.
This article appeared in http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/11/04/247588.html