A WEEKEND IN BEIT JALAH

Jan 08 2012 Published by under RECOMMENDED READING, Uncategorized

 THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN NARRATIVE PROJECT.

Necktie - Outside -Inside exhibition, 2010. By: Jamal Bahri. He has 1 NIS in his pocket.

Necktie - Outside -Inside exhibition, 2010. By: Jamal Bahri. He has 1 NIS in his pocket.

“You know you don’t have to go if you are scared. You don’t have to prove anything”.

Messages of this kind and similar ones poured into my facebook inbox and my mobile phone.
I admit, it was not an easy decision to partake in this project. From about a week prior to the journey to Beit Jalah, I stopped sleeping. Nightmares returned at night and by day my head was full of difficult thoughts and fears. In between, I repeated in my head, like a mantra, a sentence that my friend Gilad Chushani said to me a few weeks earlier: fear stems from lack of knowledge. And I knew that I don’t know, and that I’m afraid. Rational or not, this fear was tangible even though I didn’t allow myself to get carried away with specific worries concerning possible dangers that might lie in waiting for me in the Palestinian town, in an encounter with people about whom I knew nothing except that they are Palestinian artists.

My last encounter with Palestinians on Israeli/Palestinian soil was very bad indeed. It was on the 21st of December 2000; I was a soldier in the Nahal and volunteered to help members of my peer-group who had settled in Maskiot in the Jordan Valley. While I was playing backgammon with a girl from my unit in the Meholah Junction, waiting for a lift to Maskiot, a young Palestinian man aged 20 or 21 sat next to us. Half an hour later, exactly at the moment of my sweeping victory in the game, he arose and walked towards the bus stop. A disturbing thought crossed my mind. I didn’t hear any approaching bus. I turned my head to follow him and suddenly felt him standing behind me, gripping me from behind tightly. I grabbed his hand that surrounded my neck in an attempt to break free when he screamed something in my ear and then there was a colossal explosion. I will skip all the graphic details. Later I spent 5 months recovering in Rambam Hospital, followed by a year of rehabilitation. Ever since, I suffer from loud ringing in my ears, and my daily activities brought to a standstill from time to time, with flashbacks where I re-live this experience weighing me down. This happens nearly always when I hear Arabic, see Arabic script, hear the explosion-like sounds of car engines, and all sorts of other benign situations; in short, what is considered a full post-traumatic phenomenon. So there, I have explained a bit about the reasons for all my anxieties and the fears I felt in anticipation of my visit to Palestine.

"Post Zionism?", Map of Israel burned on my back. Omer Golan, 2006.

"Post Zionism?", Map of Israel burned on my back. Omer Golan, 2006.

And indeed, as I arrived and took in on which side of the Separation Wall I stand, I was engulfed by anxiety. For about four hours I felt myself under an offensive of anxiety and flashbacks which were in stark contrast to all the smiles and polite head gestures exchanged by everyone. After getting to know the Palestinian participants and as I was getting used to this strange situation and to the simultaneous translation which was constantly whispered in our ears by Ahmed Jafary the skilled translator, that the many tensions bottled inside myself were only just then slightly eased (that particularly pacifying peace-pipe that we jointly smoked certainly didn’t hurt).

All the participants in the project gave chilling testimonies on their encounter-points with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it was generally felt that all the artists who took part were there not for the sake of apportioning blame but in order to find a starting point for the future – a future without violence, occupation or bloodshed. I will not repeat here the terrible stories that nearly choked me when I heard them, and I will not delve into the details of the traumas, which people on both sides grew up so much so that they seem an almost “natural” and inextricable part of life.

Isratine, Tal Golan, 2008

Isratine, Tal Golan, 2008

In the website of the Bereaved Families Forum (www.theparentscircle.com ), the objects of this “Narrative Project” are described as follows: “To build trust and empathy, to further mutual understanding between Palestinians and Israelis and to provide tools for recognition and understanding of the national and personal narratives of the other side”.

I think that this is exactly what we did, or at least started doing. Through the honest sharing of our personal narratives, by means of the mutual curiosity and interest of the art created on the other side of the divide, and by identifying with the basic and universal difficulties faced by artists wherever they are, we came closer, feeling our way, trying to get to know each other better. Mostly though, we learnt at close range what perhaps seemed obvious to most of us beforehand, but was better understood in Beit Jalah, namely, that people and their actions are a direct product of their lives’ circumstances.

Mohammad W. Al-Dawadeh

Mohammad W. Al-Dawadeh

One of the most interesting parts for me was on Saturday morning, when two professors of history, Eyal Navah and Khalil Baader arrived, and introduced us to chapters from a history book written jointly by them, which describes the two narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the respective viewpoint of the two nations side by side. They spoke about Zionism, the Balfour Declaration, the White Paper, the Holocaust, the Naqba/War of Independence. Each of them told the history as told in their society. The gaps between the national narratives are huge. I was very familiar with the Israeli narrative. Probably my bizarre interest in history since childhood had instilled this “knowledge” in me very well. The Palestinian narrative, on the other hand, was almost entirely new to me. Previously, I never understood their perception of historical events that I assumed I knew so well.

There were incredible moments for me when, for example, I was sitting with a nice Palestinian guy on Friday night for an in-depth chat into the early hours of the freezing night in Beit Jalah, and between exchanges of photographs and stories, on art, politics and anything in between, for a flash I glimpsed at this situation as an observer.
There was I, a former IDF soldier, who was mortally wounded by a suicide-bomber a young Palestinian student, sitting and having a conversation about political art, religion and music, with a young Palestinian student and painter, who some years prior to this, was in an Israeli prison charged with a failed attempt to cause an explosion against Israeli soldiers in Nablus.

I cannot describe what I felt, but it soon turned into a recognition, that he is participating in this project with me today and he wants to encounter other voices in the Israeli society, beyond the ones he already knows, those of soldiers and settlers. And here we are by ourselves, chatting and everything is alright, no one is blown up and the conversation flows, and at times even makes us laugh. The dialogue about art helped me bridge many of the strange moments that passed through my head almost against my will.

“Future of Religion”, The Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Omer Golan 2010

“Future of Religion”, The Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Omer Golan 2010

One of the most significant things that happened to me on a personal level during this weekend, was that I managed to dissolve to some extent the hard cognitive connection forged in the last decade, between spoken and written Arabic and death and terror. In my mind new associations emerged, between Arabic and good, interesting art, between Arabic and good, interesting people, and between Arabic and people like myself, who are seeking freedom of choice in their profession, creativity, time and life.

I want to summarize and tell you that through this project I met people who are similar to me as far as religion, a wish for secular state for both people and conceptual art are concerned. In fact, in many ways the similarities exceeded the differences. I met people who are interested and willing to co-operate in artistic and social matters, do not believe in boycotts and want to be creative and be active. I hope we will exhibit our art jointly, here in Israel and in Palestine, and in the world. After all, we have much more in common than just a tragic history, a blood-saturated earth and perhaps a few genes.

We are going to meet again in a fortnight in Lifta, a site of a former Palestinian village at the outskirts of Jerusalem, whose inhabitants abandoned during the 1948 war, and I eagerly anticipate this meeting.

I warmly recommend to you to follow the activities of the Bereaved Families Forum and to try and participate in similar project arranged by the Forum in the future.

Omer Golan, 31, a painter and new-media artist. His works are created on the seam-line that combines technology, science, sociology and art. Omer studied new media programming in order to create his new-media works. Using computer, sensors, cameras and unique software that he created, he generates certain rules that help him manipulate the space in which he displays his works and produce dynamic works that react to the audience’s response and transpose passive viewers into participants.

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Nothing to do with God

Dec 21 2011 Published by under Religions

Guest Post by: Tom Eshchar

Tom and Alizarin are a couple of young creative creatures that are now enjoying their honeymoon in a world wide road trip. Fortunately for us, they share beautiful pictures and fascinating stories about their adventures around the world in a great blog called Zroob.com

Will you do things differently if you thought nobody was judging you? Would that thing be better that way?

Recently we added our photos to another photographer’s web site.  We added a photo in which we are standing naked in front of the “Rabbanut” which is the judicial council for religious matters for Jewish people in the state of Israel.  It was suppose to be our wedding photo, and we were trying to say that although according to the law we have to sign in there, we kindly refuse. We wanted to tell the world that we don’t agree with the convention of living together as “balls and chains” but rather as a joined adventure.  We decided to share our belief of love as an added flavor and not having to ask anyone to validate this for us, especially if that person knows nothing of what we want out of this life and love.

In our art (Tom’s photos, Alizarin photos, writing and design) we sometimes say things that matters to us. Every now and then we create in a way that we produce something that is not just pretty. There is a risk in that. In this television controlled, fast and many stimuli world, a saying is often faced with puzzled, sometimes empty looks.  Better yet are the post modern ideas in which anything is possible and the truth is as elusive as politicians.  Still, we enjoy on occasion the thrill of juggling the truth as we see it.

Recently, we had an interesting nude project. I’m not writing “photography project” because it felt more than that.  We asked regular people, not models, to participate. We wanted to create art that also changes the life of its models. As an experience, it was very exciting for all sides. We had 35 people stripping within three months. All amateurs. 4 of them couples. They all said after that besides the beautiful outcome, they feel they’ve been through an interesting experience that made them think and feel different things about their body and of nudity.

Why nude? I feel as if sex, and the human body is one of the relics of thought of the old dark ages.  Along with human rights, and freedom, this was repressed and restrained by the religious institutes.  Now is the time of self reliance, self conscious and human morality. Art is just the way to promote this. To show the world how beautiful it can look.

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Interesting work in Paris: Nick Walker’s
“Le corancan” – “Coran Can”

Dec 24 2010 Published by under RECOMMENDED READING

The piece above was done yesterday morning on Quai de Valmy in Central Paris by Nick Walker. It’s in response to Sarkozy’s decision to ban the burkha. From Nick:

“It’s particularly tense in Paris. They are in between elections and the reaction is expected to be quite strong. The police discovered the piece 30 minutes after it was completed and we don’t expect it to stay up long. After months of wrangling, the government are believed to be only days away from ratifying the ban.”



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Multi-Media Artist Sama Alshaibi

Aug 21 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Sama Alshaibi is born in Iraq to an Iraqi father and Palestine mother. She is now an American citizen living in the States and teaching in post secondary institution. She is a multi-media artist who produces photographs and video art. Alshaibis’ art is strikingly powerful with its silent grab on the viewers’ attention with stories about suffer and the displacement of loss.

Alshaibi often uses her own body as both a protagonist and a site, linking struggles and the way that nations have affected and twisted lives in bodily performances. Her auto-ethnographic approach is informed by her own history of living in war, the double negation to her familial homelands and her countless encounters with those policing borders from the undesired. I admire her art and courage to render the history and the current affairs that is heavily looked at today. Her photographic and cinematic skills are full of stories behind them. It was very difficult to choose just a few images to represent her work, which is very aesthetic, powerful and diverse. Check out her website, it is a little old fashion (flash and pop-ups) but it does compliment her artworks.

Sama Alshaibis’ website

http://www.samaalshaibi.com

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THE 99: Changing stereotypes through Muslim cartoon characters

Aug 17 2010 Published by under Religions

Superheroes inspired by Islam


In “THE 99,” Naif Al-Mutawa’s new generation of comic book heroes fight more than crime — they smash stereotypes and battle extremism. Named after the 99 attributes of Allah, his characters reinforce positive messages of Islam and cross cultures to create a new moral framework for confronting evil, even teaming up with the Justice League of America.

Wonder How THE 99 Comics Are Created?


It all starts with an idea. Maybe the idea is about a certain character or a type of story that we want to tell. Sometimes, the creator of THE 99 generates the ideas for our stories but other times one of our writers or editors has a story that they’d like to tell or even read! An editor oversees the entire production process of the comic book, from discussing the direction of the story with the creator or publisher to hiring the various artists who will work on the book. Almost all of the people who work on our comic books are freelancers; this means they work from their own home or studio rather than in one of Teshkeel’s offices.
Once an idea has been approved, it slowly takes shape by first becoming a script. A script provides written direction from a writer to the artists who draw the comic book stories. The writer explains what action will take place in each panel and provides the dialogue and sound effects that will accompany that image.

A copy of the script gets sent to the penciler, an artist who adapts the writer’s words into action-filled images. A penciler must be able to draw just about anything from airplanes, buildings and cars to jungles, futuristic machinery and super-powered people with extraordinary abilities. Using a pencil, the penciler draws on a large piece of paper called an art board. Each page is broken down into panels that tell the story sequentially (in order). The penciler uses his drawing abilities to stage the pacing, frame the action and create the mood of the story.

Once the penciler has finished drawing, the pages are sent to the inker. The inker applies black ink to the penciler’s artwork with a pen or brush. This provides the dark lines that are necessary for the printing process. The inker does his best to enhance what the artist has penciled. The inked artwork gets scanned into a computer.

Working from a scan of the inked artwork the colorist provides the color that can add life and mood to the black and white artwork. Our colorists use a computer program called Adobe Photoshop. This program allows them to create a wide range of coloring effects that best enhance the action atmosphere of the story.
While the artwork is being colored, another process is also taking place; again, working from a scan of the artwork, a letterer is creating the speech balloons, captions and sound effects that add to the visual imagery.

When all these processes are complete, a production artist works on the computer to bring each piece together to create a finished computer file that the printer can work from. The editor reviews the files and finally sends them off to the printer.

http://www.the99.org

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Dictatorship Spot | Omer Golan’s Dictatorship

Aug 08 2010 Published by under Dictatorship Spot


“I’ll do the stupid thing first and then you shy people follow”

Frank Zappa

So there you go. My dictators mustache. I’m half Iraqi and half Russian so I have excellent dictator genes from both sides of the family. I’m made for the job. Plus, both my grandfathers had a glorious mustache. If you wonder what facial hair got to do with dictators read this guide to evil dictators facial hair.

If I somehow assumed sole and absolute power and control in Israel I would change a lot of things. This is my fantastic dictatorship:

There are many fazes that a medicine/cure goes through before it reaches patiences to help them. Clinical Trials are conducted to allow safety and efficacy data to be collected for health interventions (e.g., drugs, diagnostics, devices, therapy protocols). These trials can take place only after satisfactory information has been gathered on the quality of the non-clinical safety, and Health Authority/Ethics Committee approval is granted in the country where the trial is taking place. So how does all of this relate to my dictatorship? I would speed up the development time of cures by allowing clinical trials on violent prisoners. There will be not death punishment for any crime under my regime. Instead, new and experimental drugs will be tested on criminals from early stages. Prisons should be totally self efficient. They must be able to produce the funds that are needed to operate them on their own. Clinical trials would be one of them ways in which they could do it. I am not talking about replacing the jail punishments, only about adding to them. Our society should not suffer the burden of sponsoring prisons or the scums that live there.

“Future of Religion”

The Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Future of Religion, Omer Golan 2010

The Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Future of Religion, Omer Golan 2010

Next on my agenda will be the complete and total separation between state and religions. I understand that religions had important functions in society in the past. But it is not the case any more at the present.

Religion is a matter of faith. Under my dictatorship, religions will not be allowed to organize. No matter what religion you believe in, faith is personal, belief is personal, so it will not feed on public funds any longer. Greedy organized religions will have to give back to society all of the wealth they accumulated on our expense and will be shut down and outlawed. Religious ceremonies will not be in any way a part of the new state’s agenda, there will be only secular holidays, like maybe a national BBQ holiday, and a great celebration of the dictator’s birthday (note May 14th for the celebration). Religion will have no grab on the institution of marriage, only civil marriages will be legally obligating.
To my view, religious sites and symbols belong to the past, and to history museums. I will take all the religious sites and put them in a glass boxes for display in one great big History Museum dedicated to religions that will be built in Tel Aviv,  or maybe somewhere far out in the desert.

Church of All Nations Jerusalem, Future of Religion, Omer Golan 2010

Church of All Nations, Jerusalem, Future of Religion, Omer Golan 2010

I will make Israel one secular country for everyone (that I like) that want to live a decent life, with a family and a job and whatever, I will chase out the religious lunatics and nationalist fanatics. The IDF will have to give up half its budget, and do a lot more community work and keep the (new) order. The money that we will get from the army we will invest in education. A lot of education. because smart, educated people don’t blow themselves up.

At the end of the day, just like some old Roman dictators, I will give back my power to the people. Some people are bothered when I say all kind of anti democratic statements, like “democracy failed, or it really needs an upgrade”, or the one about that NOT all people should be allowed to vote. Some just think that I am crazy. I think that it’s very logical. The majority are uneducated and easy to manipulate, we should definitely not do what the majority choose. So my idea seems very reasonable: I suggest to put a few multiple choice questions about the candidates and political parties and views right next to the voting polls. If someone don’t know enough about their favorite candidate and the elections – their vote will be discarded (and a bucket of cold water will spill over them with an automatic mechanism).

———————–

Omer Golan is a contemporary new-media and fine artist based in Tel Aviv Israel.
http://omer.arts-collective.com

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Social Chutzpa (Nerves) For The Brave – Religion

Jul 20 2010 Published by under Religions

All of us have some opinion about religion, whether you believe in it or not, or whether you take it for granted or just don’t think of it too often. Religion is usually considered a sensitive subject when it is being discussed publicly and examined from a critical point of view. Some of you may not agree with the artworks that this post present, some of you might find them rude and disturbing. A few may be insulted. None of it aim to disrespect you or your beliefs. It was made to express the artist’s feeling towards religions’ consequences.

Nuns with Guns, not the band, not nor movie, Fine Political Art.

political-art Posted by PUPPETGOV

political-art Posted by PUPPETGOV

Religions has sure changed a lot in the past few decades, and so has their grab on peoples minds. To my opinion, in 2010, we no longer need religions. Religions lost their function. If ages ago religions used to be what kept societies together, today it keep us apart. Organized Religions become increasingly more violent and undermine democratic law by inventing their own demented laws like the Jewish Halacha or Islamic Fatawa. If the artworks in this post does not convince you, just take a look at these blogs authored by “Honest-To-God-Catholic-Nuns”, I promise you that you will laugh hard and long :-) The Adventures of “One Fun Nun” Hell Burns Happy Nun Thinks Aloud

Below is the “uncensored version” of the beautiful painting “Ms. July” from the series of painting “Islamic Calendar Girl” by Iranian-born California Artist Makan (Max) Emadi. His work is very appealing and packed with symbolism. Read Max Emadi’s own omments on his Islamic Erotica series on his website which I strongly recommend you to check out. The link is at the bottom of the post.

"Islamic Calendar Girl" by Max Emadi

"Islamic Calendar Girl" by Max Emadi

Ms. July

Ms. July lays back on a sheet in the color of Islamic green. Her black robe appears to be the equivalent of a mini-skirt and is hitched high to show her long slender legs. Red stiletto shoes are a complement to the green of the sheet.

"Ms September" Iranian Woman Painting by Max Emadi

"Ms September" Iranian Woman Painting by Max Emadi













Ms. September

Ms. September winks at us while holding cards in her hands that count to 9/11.



Oreet Ashery’s controversial gender-bending photo of a breast-holding Hasid.

Oreet Ashery is the British-Israeli multi-media artist behind the most overtly political image of a shot of herself dressed as Hasidic man looking down at her obviously female breast.

By dressing in the traditional garb of Orthodox men, Ashery said she is challenging that community’s strict gender codes and encouraging “dialogue”. What do you think? it’s it briliant feminist art or unnecessary propaganda?

Oreet Ashery - breast-holding Hasid

Oreet Ashery - breast-holding Hasid

I hope you enjoyed these artworks for what they are and appreciate the spirits of these artists who dared to express publicly feelings and ideas that perhaps many others feel but avoid touching.
Please comment and share your opinions and views with us.

Links and Sources

Grenades from pic of the day @ puppetgov.com

Armed Nuns from pic of the day @ puppetgov.com

Artist Makan (Max) Emadiwebsite

Artist Oreet Asherywebsite

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