Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ramallah Syndrome, Ahdaf Soueif on Palestinian Art

Check out the blog Ramallah Syndrome, and its very informative discussions of Ramallah, Palestine's de facto 'capital.'

From Jamil:

Once you are outside Ramallah you immediately face Israeli checkpoints, so you have to see it through this system of controlled urbanization where the Palestinian Authority has some sort of symbols of sovereignty, but in fact it's all very deceptive. There is not much power, this is it. If you go to the restaurants and if you go to the fashion shops you can maybe choose fashion from Italy and maybe suits from France whatever, you think that you have entered this bubble - but it is a bubble, it can be punctured. Like what happened in 2002 when the Israelis invaded Ramallah. Which within one hour the Israelis took complete control, Arafat was besieged in one room, with smelly toilets and it was difficult to get him food. It shows you the real power - still with the occupation, when they want to use it they use it.

I wish I could have attended the Ramallah Syndrome Sound System Performance on June 6, put on by Aswatt (Basel Abbas) of Ramallah Underground and Ruanne Aburahme at the Venice Bienniale.

Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif published an informative piece on the Palestinian artists exhibiting at Venice, Palestine c/o Venice, as well as on the Palestinian festival of literature, held earlier in the West Bank.

I'd particularly like to see this, especially after meeting the Palestinian hip-hop group G-Town in the Shu'fat camp last summer. (See my photos of G-Town and Shu'afat here.)

Jawad al-Malhi's House No 197 concentrates on the "project" where he grew up, Shufhat refugee camp in Jerusalem, where buildings - although built in concrete - are "never conceived as a whole from foundation to rooftop, but rather are built in piecemeal fashion for temporary use as their occupants wait to leave". The work, which also examines community and its durability under stress, is eerie in its crowdedness, emptiness, the occasional splash of colour.

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