The Bridge: Challenging Perception
Contributors: Ahmad Lahham, Aysar Al Saify, Isshaq Al Barbary
“Entirely financed and built by the Dheisheh camp community, a pedestrian bridge was erected connecting the camp to Doha City in order to provide a safe crossing point. However, it soon became apparent that it was was not being used for its intended purpose and thus was closed. Since then, it has remained an under-utilized potential space, an abandoned representation of the camp’s agency.”03 | The Bridge (PDF)
The initiatives included in these booklets are the result of a collective effort made by the Campus in Camps participants in dialogue with community members, associations and collaborators. They have been inspired through dialogue with Sandi Hilal, Munir Fasheh, Alessandro Petti and activated with Tamara Abu Laban, BraveNewAlps, Ayman Khalifah, Matteo Guidi, Sara Pellegrini, Giuliana Racco, Diego Segatto, Dena Qaddumi.
→ April 7, 2013 – Cleaning and Reclaiming the Common Spaces
Discussions throughout the first year of Campus in Camps concerning the absence of responsibility over public space on the part of any party in the West Bank -whether authoritarian or institutional- as well as the perception of public space in the entire Arab region, encouraged Isshaq, Aysar, Qussay and Ahmad to hold cleaning activities within and around the bridge. On April 7 and 9, 2013, the cleaning occurred in two steps: first, the group collected garbage and swept the bridge, followed by the Bethlehem fire department who washed it out. This intervention was a way to exercise the right to use the community bridge, overcoming its current disuse.
→ November 27, 2013 – The Bridge Workshop
The Bridge group arranged a one-day workshop with students from the International Academy of Art in Palestine (Ramallah) and young participants from Dheisheh refugee camp, including a presentation of the initiative “The Bridge. Challenging Perception” and a tour of Dheisheh refugee camp. Participants were divided into three groups elaborating respectively on the upper covering structure, written statements to paint on the external walls and the deconstruction of its parts. The day was aimed at exploring the history of the bridge and collectively gathering ideas for its re-activation through possible interventions.
→ February 17-18, 2014- Removal of the Bridge Cover
After a series of negotiation with the Popular committee of Dheisheh Camp and Bridge committee, the initiative group hired the necessarily equipment and removed most of the bridge covers. Others dedicated times to speaking with passing by people while the removing of the cover taking place in a way to stimulate and encourage people to take action and join in.
→ April 18, 2014- Bridge Market
On Friday morning, between 10 AM and 1 PM, the participants of Campus in Camps intervened on the bridge over the main road flanking Dheisheh refugee camp. After three days of cleaning and repainting the structure, they filled the space with books, magazines – including CIC publications in English and Arabic – crafts, artworks and traditional food. The event emerged from the will to transform the space through public participation – including locals, international visitors and other professionals. The process activated a sense of collective experience projected onto a common space “redecorated” to resemble a comfortable home setting.