Tuesday, April, 1st, 2014  1:30 pm Dheisheh Refugee Camp

An exchange between Birzeit University, International Academy of Art Palestine, Nurnberg Academy of Fine Art and University of Brighton. In Partnership with Goethe Ramallah, Campus in Camps and Riwaq.

With the death of the notion of nationalism and the decay in the belief in democracy through parliamentary and political representation; and with the calls for reform of the tainted nationalist Arab regimes amidst the recent disconcerting upheavals in the Arab world, Palestinians strive to build their national state and shape its political and cultural identity. Ramallah has become the de facto capital of the PA’s state project and the center of its transnational culture, politics and economy, opening up outwards and networking with other regional and global cosmopolitan spaces. A city like Hebron however, remains a parochial trade and industrial center, coexisting in a paradoxical contention with Ramallah. Hebron, like other Palestinian cities is arguably still relatively provincial and conservative where families have the power to define and redefine the conscience of their spatial and societal development.

This spatio-temporal dichotomy of diverse built-up environments came into being after the second intifada in 2000. Israeli colonial policy of fragmentation and closure aimed at curbing Palestinians’ movements and mobility through setting up checkpoints and enforcing strict curfews. After 2002 the Israeli army continued to lead many incursion campaigns in the West bank and Gaza Strip against PA targets and other urban infrastructures in major cities. The destruction of major urban centers has lead to disconnected “reconstruction” movements in these cities, which has endorsed the shaping of introverted and separated spatial identities.

Walking and Talking is a strategy to investigate the variety of relationships between people, place and time, while maintaining an individual free mind that is still capable and interested in her/his own surroundings beyond the history of conflict and colonialism. It is, thus, the ability to maintain a strong collective resistance vis-à-vis a synergetic society by concerning ourselves as individuals in shaping society and striving constantly to improve it regardless of sect or ethnicity and regardless of who is in power. Walking and Talking becomes an escape from the double bind of Israeli colonialism and/or the current political Palestinian regime in place. It becomes a passion to understand our loyalties and allegiance to our cultural idioms and the spirit of our history. We try to hold on to parts of our culture that were once embedded in our fascination and interaction with the cosmos and nature, and probe important questions around ethics and sublimity. This escape from the “action” and “reaction” discourse is a stimulus that recharges our political imagination and modes of resistance based on “local forms of knowledge and ways of knowing” that have historically been carried across geographies and time. This is the only way that I can think, and, that is resourceful enough to transform our “learned helplessness” to “learned optimism.”

The workshop brings together students and participants to work together throughout the walks to write their personal reflections in notebooks, draw sketches, record sounds and conversations, take photographs, collect material, state ideas and pose questions as well as imagine other possible realities by suggesting contemporary art forms.

This text is by: Yazid Anani