A Place in Europe •

(Temporär webbpresentation, projektet ska få en egen URL 2018). Projektet drivs av den ideella organisationen Elefanten i Samhället. Initiativtagare och kontaktpersoner är Cecilia Parsberg och Erik Pauser. Huset är utvecklat i samarbete med arkitekterna David Martinez Escobar och Haval Murad från Detail Group. Research för filmen gjordes i samverkan med dansaren Anna Westberg. Projektet kommer att involvera ytterligare kompetenser, bland Ingegerd Green vars huvudsakliga kompetens område är design och ledning av kunskapsutveckling och utvecklingsprogram med koppling till regional utveckling och system för kompetensförsörjning. Projektet har forskningsstatus — det har genomgått internationell peer-review av 4 professorer på 4 olika universitet i världen genom det internationella forskningsprojektet Project Anywhere (mer info). Projektet fick högsta poäng för nyskapande metodik i Kulturbryggans startstöd 2016.

 

Projektnamnet ”En Plats i Europa” är ett paraply-namn för: en mobil filmskulptur med titeln ”Huset”, en rad seminarier/arrangerade samtal, ett program för skolor i Sverige och i förlängningen i andra EU-länder.

På ett nyskapande och överraskande sätt vill vi delta i diskussionen kring migration och mänskliga rättigheter. Vi vill inkludera och synliggöra en plats och en livssituation som många migranter har – och som vi menar blir allt vanligare i Europa, men som ofta är dold för allmänheten.

Medborgarplatsen-filmvisnLED-(webb)

Huset på Medborgarplatsen i Stockholm, 3D skiss av Detail Group.

En mobil filmskulptur har formen av ett Hus som dyker ner i marken i en brant vinkel. Huset kommer att visas på trettiotalet offentliga platser i Sverige och Europa. Huset transporteras med lastbil och installeras som ett tillägg i stadsmiljön under ett dygn. I samband med detta arrangeras lokalt olika typer av offentliga samtal, workshops och temadagar på skolor. Husets undersida är en 2,5 m bred LED-skärm där en film visas.(Skärmen fungerar bra i dagsljus. Inbyggt i Huset finns en ljudanläggning). Filmen visas dessutom som del av kortfilmsprogrammet RÖST — ett samarbete där Folkets Bio, Svenska Filminstitutet och Sveriges Television inför höstens val uppmanat etablerade regissörer och nya filmskapare att göra kortfilm för att inspirera till politiskt engagemang och få fler att rösta.

Filmens synopsis: På en undanskymd plats i centrala Stockholm råder ett slags undantagstillstånd. Här bor människor som faller mellan stolarna i EU-systemet. Tomas har under tre år sovit under en lastbrygga tillsammans med råttor. Nu ska han vräkas. Han håller ett försvarstal om mänskliga rättigheter.

EnPlatsEU-(webb)_IMG_2738

Om filmen: vi har filmat i ett område i centrala Stockholm; avgränsat av en motorväg på ena sidan, en tunnelbanelinje på den andra och ett bergsparti med skog på den tredje, nästan osynligt för förbipasserande, där ett slags undantagstillstånd verkar råda. Här bor och arbetar en grupp människor av olika nationaliteter tillfälligt. Många har hamnat mellan stolarna i EU-systemet. Det är en av de många platser i Europa som blir allt vanligare, men det är fortfarande en plats som vi sällan ser. Tomas, en propert klädd man, har bott här under en lastbrygga i 3 år. Nu ska han vräkas. Tomas är upprörd och håller ett försvarstal för sina rättigheter som människa. Efter arton års arbete på en fabrik i Italien blev han arbetslös. Utan skyddsnät står han nu på gatan och äger ingenting, det är inte människovärdigt att bo bland råttorna. Om han inte ens får bo här var ska han då ta vägen? Thomas anförande är drabbande. På ett rättframt sätt lägger han fram den komplicerade verklighet han har att röra sig i. Han vill göra rätt för sig och försörja sin familj, men det verkar omöjligt. Han är inte först och främst ett politiskt problem — han är en människa och vill leva värdigt. Han uppmanar samhället att ställa honom inför rätta så att han kan försvara sig. Thomas blir samtidigt i filmen talare för och representant för andra som försöker klara livhanken på olika sätt. Ej färdig version https://vimeo.com/245195156  Password: Platsen3.

Huset dyker ner i marken, människor faller med Huset. Liksom båtarna med migranter på Medelhavet som inte förmår bära upp människor, förmår inte heller det svenska regelsystemet eller EU:s regelsystem bära upp människor som kommer hit.

Riksdag-filmvisn(webb)

Huset framför Riksdagshuset i Stockholm, 3D skiss av Detail Group.

 

Drivkrafter och syfte

Vi tror att konsten kan synliggöra och öppna upp för konstruktiva samtal. Därför innefattar det övergripande projektet förutom Huset och filmen även berättelser från publiken, seminarier och andra former av öppna samtal med deltagare från olika kunskapsfält och bakgrunder, där hem, hemlöshet, migration och mänskliga rättigheter kopplas samman. En del av arrangemangen kommer vända sig speciellt till skolungdomar. Det handlar om ett komplext samhällsproblem där många faktorer spelar roll för den nya aktuella och akuta livssituationen och där flera perspektiv behövs för att förstå det som sker. Vi är övertygade om att alla har berättelser, tankar och erfarenheter kring hem och hemlöshet och på något sätt kan bidra i ett kollektivt tänkande.

Genom att sätta upp Huset på offentliga platser når vi även de som vanligtvis inte ser konst och dokumentärfilm och inte deltar i samtalet om EU eller om människors rörelser över nationsgränserna. Events med inbjudna gäster syftar till att initiera möten mellan grupper som sällan kommer till tals. En viktig målgrupp är unga människor i högstadiet eller i gymnasieålder; då Huset sätts upp på t.ex. en skolgård eller vid en fritidsgård hålls det temadag/vecka på skolan kring ämnet.

Vi är övertygade om att de erfarenheter publiken får genom projektet kan så ett frö till ett framtida engagemang på olika nivåer.

StureplanProjytaWebb

Huset på Stureplan i Stockholm, 3D skiss av Detail Group.

***

Lives that have been separated – by an imagined structure – can also be connected – by a lived structure – but not without hope of something else.

Uppehållstillstånd / On Hold


Uppehållstillstånd

Kvinnan på fotot är en vandrare som övernattar enligt allemansrättens frihet under ansvar.[i]

Hon är skyddslös då hon sover och behöver därför enskildhet för att få vara ifred.

Hon inrättar ett tillfälligt hem i sin sovsäck.

 

Cecilia Parsbergs foto ”Uppehållstillstånd” hänger högt upp mellan två ekar i Nääs slottspark (maj-sept 2017). Det är gjort med tanke på att varje människa — 7,3 miljarder människor — behöver ett hem. Ett hem är inte bara ett fysiskt skydd mot väder och vind. ”Hem” är också hemkänsla; här kan jag vila och vara sårbar, här kan himlen öppna sig. Vad är ett hem för dig?

”Uppehållstillstånd” (C-print 63cm X 200cm på plexiglas).

 

On Hold

The woman on the photograph is a wanderer staying overnight according to ”Allemansrätten” — freedom with responsibility.i

She is defenceless when she sleeps and therefore needs solitude to be in peace.

She establishes a temporary home in her sleeping bag.

Cecilia Parsbergs photo ”On Hold” is hanging high between two oak trees in Nääs Park. ii It is made with the thought that every human being -— 7.3 billion people — needs a home. A home is not only a physical protection against the wind and weather. ”Home” is also home feeling; here I can rest and be vulnerable, here the sky can open. What is a home for you?

”On Hold” (C-print 63cm X 200cm on plexiglass).
Nääs slottspark, Sweden. May-Sept 2017.

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Nääs slottspark, Sweden. May-Sept 2017.

A story to the art work in Nääs park

When I received the exhibition assignment, I was asked to relate to an optional historical site/area along the migration route from Africa. I have chosen northwest Syria, in the outskirts of ancient Mesopotamia; the land between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. Between Aleppo and Idlib, there are about 40 ancient Ancient cities designated by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee as a unique cultural landscape for its architectural remains of homes, pagan temples, churches, cisterns, bathhouses, farms, from a number of civilizations: the Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite, Hurritan, Babylonian, Medical, Assyrian and Persian. For centuries, people have traveled to visit this cultural heritage, one could say that in places where we share historical heritage there is a universal right of ”Allemansrätt” — a Swedish concept.iii It can also be said that for the pluralistic west, public access to inheritance is an individual right. In the ongoing war, several of these sites have been subjected to destruction or are at risk of being destroyed by Daesh (IS). Today, many of these sites are defended by a multi-ethnic and multireligious alliance YPG that shares belief that good communities are based on pluralism and that different religions can share sensual images and values.

 iv

YPG’s brigade with women is called The Women’s Protection Units.v One of the female soldiers says: ”The woman has been suppressed for more than 50,000 years and now we have the possibility of having our own will, our own power and our own personality.”vi This statement is discussed within the scholarly community, there are those who claim that the woman has been equal to the man for a certain period in the mesopotamian cultures. British historian Amanda Foreman claims that during the Sumerian civilization, women had the same power as men. Priestesses and priests had the same power in the temples.vii The woman could study just like men and the laws also protected her; In marriage, the woman could differ and had her own property, and in the business world there were no restrictions.viii During the open and outward Sumerian culture, astrology, mathematics and the writing language developed 3300 BC. The Sumerians invented the wheel and the plow and practiced crafts such as weaving, leatherwork, ceramics, masonry and metalworking. 2340 BC when Sumer was conquered by the Akkades and when the Assyrian empire spread in northern Mesopotamia, the women gradually lost their rights in society and were excluded from the public.ix The first written law about veil for women is from this time. Violence against women was legalised.x The art of this era testifies to a growing patriarchal culture, women are increasingly losing their freedom, says historian Amanda Foreman.

xi

Another one in YPG’s women warriors expresses why she defends her country, its historical places and what she wants to change: ”I see the Syrian revolution as not only a popular revolution of the people but also as a revolution of women .” These soldiers want to challenge existing structures between women and men, and to make new, more relevant ones. Their actions challenge the prevailing images of women and men.

When we live under similar conditions, common images appear, from (often) silent negotiations we make agreements on which images we will share. Visualizing communication on a sensible basis is often the artist’s mission. Can we more actively contribute to creating future images — express what we want in the future? These are questions that engage me as an artist.

Notes

ii Uppehållstillstånd means also Residency permit in Swedish.

v YPJ – The Women’s Protection Units, also known as Women’s Defense Units – is YPG’s female brigade, formed in 2012. YPJ consists of nearly 20,000 women who are fighting and make up about 40% of YPG. http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Kurdish-Women-Turning-Kobani-into-a-Living-Hell-for-Islamic-State-20141014-0072.html

vi Since 2011, under the Syrian people’s revolution against the dictatorship, several of the sites in the Northern Syria area / cultural landscape designated by UNESCO to world heritage were hosted by Islamic groups including Daesh (IS) who oppose reverence and the presence of holy places and holy places and systematically destroys them.

viii The information is from ” The Ascent of Woman 1 Civilisation – BBC Documentary 2015” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPMocsqHnDo&app=desktop. The program is written by Dr. Amanda Foreman, who studied in 18th Century British History, at Oxford University in 1998. Foreman examines the world’s first laws founded in Mesopotamia. Here are questions about divorce, abortion and the use of veil. She tells, among other things, the story of Enheduanna, the world’s first-known author, and shows these writings.

x ”The 112 Assyrian laws that originate from the 11th century BC are in Berlin. Over half of them are about marriage and sex. ”(21: 40min).https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPMocsqHnDo&app=desktop

 

How do you become a successful beggar in Sweden?

 

How do You Become a Successful Beggar in Sweden?
An inquiry into the images of begging and giving 2011 to 2016.
The dissertation, consisting of nine textchapters and six staged works, is available in both Swedish and English in a specially layouted digital presentation at beggingandgiving.se
 

Cecilia Parsberg’s first encounter with a begging person led her to spend five years investigating the new situation regarding begging and giving in Sweden. The premise is that every-day actions and reactions to another person can be made visible through aesthetics with ethical underpinnings. Her investigation takes place mainly in the urban landscape and in the media. 

 

– The images always constitute the point of departure for the reasoning and for the staged works. Images that separate as well as connect bodies, says Cecilia Parsberg and continues:

– Which images are at play in the social choreography of begging and giving?
In this context, how can images be activated in new ways? How can new images be generated?

She also believes that begging is a call to social interaction, and regardless of whether the giver interacts socially with the begging person on the street, the giver is implicated in the asymmetrical value systems of the European Union.

– In my first staged work I hire a professional market researcher to find out how a beggar in Sweden should behave to be successful. This becomes a film that I then show opposite another film in which begging people talk about how givers give.

This is followed by a number of staged works and an interdisciplinary theoretical discussion involving, among others, Judith Butler, Sara Ahmed, and Hannah Arendt, as well as a number of artistic works concerning how images – and bodily actions – are linked to the social image and the body politics. The arrangement of the choirs in the staged work The Chorus of Begging and The Chorus of Giving, indicates a space for social interaction and thus demonstrates a different order that demands different actions in terms of language, movement, and attitude toward each other.

– It’s a social choreography: when the choirs rehearsed and sung together a political form emerged. My hope is to make visible a space for action between the begging and the giving that can be used for continued ethical negotiations and new staged works.

 

The dissertation, consisting of nine textchapters and six staged works, is available in both Swedish and English in a specially layouted digital presentation at beggingandgiving.se

Cecilia Parsberg
E-mail: c.parsberg@gmail.com
Tel: +4670-328 68 19The dissertation is available in both Swedish and English at beggingandgiving.se

 

 

Below you find some documentation from the exhibitions (this is Not the dissertation itself)

All staged works in the dissertation has been exhibited at:

Solo exhibition at Skellefteå Konsthall, 30/10, 2016 –22/1, 2017.

Solo exhibition at Varbergs Konsthall, 3/10, 2015 – 10 Jan. 2016.

Solo exhibition at at Skövde Konsthall, 7/3–24/5, 2015. (Doctoral seminar (75%) s, 23/4)

Solo exhibition at Reflektera Konsthall, Väven, Umeå, 11/4–17/5, 2015. 

Group exhibition, MOTBILDER, public places, Göteborg, 23/8–14/9, 2014.

Each exhibition holds an open panel discussion with local politicians, civil organisation, and researchers. 

 

_DSC1487

Photo from Varbergs Konsthall. Look at This interview  filmed  by a TV-team from Rumania and parts of it was broadcasted there in May 2015.

 

 ***

Chapter 7. The Chorus of Begging and The Chorus of Giving

In The Chorus of Begging participates people who beg on the streets.  In The Chorus of Giving participates people who usually give to those begging on the streets. They sing – without words or music – feelings between begging and giving people.

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(Varbergs Konsthall, Skövde Konsthall, Väven – Umeå, 2015)

 

The political happens every day, between people in my neighborhood, people who share my existence. It is the very foundation of my artistic work. I see and feel a physical and mental distance between those on their knees on the street and passers by, between begging and giving people. The viewer is invited into that space “in-between”. There is a dialogue, or lack of dialogue, between the two choruses; between voices, facial expressions and bodies. The installation The Chorus of Giving and the Chorus of Begging is an embodiment of this experiential space. A mirror of the situation that everybody can experience on the street and refer to in their day-to-day lives. It is my hope that art will make visible this in-between space – which seems difficult to talk about – as a space for action; and thus contribute to the possibility for political action in and about this space.

 

In exhibitions, next to the chorus installation, this 53 min film is screened:

Chapter 7.1 On the production of The Chorus of Begging and The Chorus of Giving

Blackbox

The process of creating a choral work together these three days was also filmed and became a production film with an accompanying text where, among other things, ethics, aesthetics and work conditions are described. The piece has been shown in a number of public places and at seminars. It’s a visualisation of how it’s possible to create space for action. It shows both method and result.

There is a space of action between us. Art is a way to utilize this space to express the sensual, that which also is the basis for the political: in the affects and reactions in people. If art is about visualising this space of action then the political is about how it is possible to see which images that are relevant in this space, and to activate it.

There is a drama on the streets between between those who beg and those who give, or don’t give. Often both parties appear to want to communicate more, but can’t. The barriers are both emotional and due to language, and many cultural codes are at play. Images of each other, often generated by prejudice and ignorance, are set in play. These images we have – how we picture one another – need to be negotiated, as these images today create a violence against humans.

Last spring, I made contact with people begging on the streets and people who sometimes give to those begging, to ask them to sing – without words or music – the emotions between begging and giving people. The two choruses should stand opposite each other and sing in response to each other.

Three days of chorus training, with chorus director Jenny Roos and musician Pär Hagström, resulted in The Chorus of Giving and the Chorus of Begging, a filminstallation for two screens where the viewer stands between. It’s a dramatization of what is happening everyday on the streets in Sweden. To give and receive money is often a non-verbal transaction, which is why The Chorus of Giving and the Chorus of Begging sing without words.
photo documentation of the three days training (to see the film shown in the exhibition, contact me.)

 

The dissertation, consisting of nine textchapters and six staged works, is available in both Swedish and English in a specially layouted digital presentation at beggingandgiving.se

 

***

Chapter 2.2 What Images does the Giving face? & What Images does the Begging face?

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In the summer of 2011 I hire a professional market researcher to conduct a qualitative market survey in which givers in Sweden share their views on those who beg on the streets and answer my question about how the latter could beg more successfully. It’s a film. (16 min). Then I ask begging EU citizen’s give their views on giving in Sweden and how people act towards them. It’s a film. (57:30 min)

These two films are screened opposite each other. For the viewer in between ”images” – collective as well as individual, visual as well as linguistic – emerge, images that are set in play in the society in every meeting between giving and begging people on the street.

With what eyes do I see the begging person; what images are ”given” and which images can I make by what happens? With what eyes is the begging person seeing the giving person? We all have unconscious mental images deriving from values produced by the national culture, structures, decision processes and institutions but many performances are interchangeable, they are possible to destroy and it is possible to create a new image.

Inför vilka bilder sker tiggandet? & Inför vilka bilder sker givandet?
Med vilka ögon ser jag på hen som tigger; vilka bilder är på förhand givna och vilka bilder kan jag göra av det som sker? Med vilka ögon ser den som tigger på givaren? Vi bär alla på omedvetna mentala bilder som härrör från värderingar producerade av nationell kultur, strukturer, beslutsprocesser och institutioner men många föreställningar är utbytbara, de är möjliga att förstöra och det är möjligt att skapa sig en ny bild.

 

***

The dissertation, consisting of nine textchapters and six staged works, is available in both Swedish and English in a specially layouted digital presentation at beggingandgiving.se

 

Chapter 8. Places II

“Sleeping places in central Stockholm, January 2015” is a series of photographs of some of the many sleeping places that are furnished on the streets. I feel like I am looking straight into bedrooms without walls, ceilings, beds, and closets. It’s a space that should be private.   “Closets on the Street” is a series of photographs that shows how bedding and belongings are stored during the day._DSC1458

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3.1 Places I

A selection of 30 photographs, snapshots from 2012-2015 when I passed by. Perhaps the begging person has gone for lunch with their friends and family. They have told us they tend to gather and share so that everyone gets food.

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 See all photos in the dissertation. The dissertation, consisting of nine textchapters and six staged works, is available in both Swedish and English in a specially layouted digital presentation at beggingandgiving.se

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The dissertation, consisting of nine textchapters and six staged works, is available in both Swedish and English in a specially layouted digital presentation at beggingandgiving.se

 *4*

Chapter 4. Body on Street ( a photo manifestation )

A selection of 22 photos generated in an an ongoing photo-demonstration with and by giving people. The begging is fairly new entrant into the street space and there are many who do not know how to relate to this, physically and mentally. How does it feel? I experience a distance, almost a chasm between me and those who are begging. Overall, it feels like the street’s atmosphere has changed; something has happened in the social climate that feels substantial and yet not defined. Is it solidarity, the ability to be touched? How does it feel for you? Would you like to participate? 

Every exhibition an open community workshop is held by the artis and the new photographs become a part of Body on Street, the exhibition.

 

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Under each photo is the name and title, to show what she represents in the community. My title is an artist, which is also a designation for my actions. See all photos here: kropp på gata / body on street

Titel: Torben, Eskildsen, kördirigent, Köpenhamn
Titel: Torben, Eskildsen, kördirigent, Köpenhamn
Title: Kent Sjöström, Senior lecturer, PhD Theatre Arts, Theatre Arts, Malmö University
Title: Kent Sjöström, Senior lecturer, PhD Theatre Arts, Theatre Arts, Malmö University

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

The chorus installation had it’s first screening outside, in six containers during three weeks.

Documentation from the exhibition MOTBILDER

In the group exhibition by ICIA, Anna van der Vliet, artistic director, presented a new film and sound installation by Cecilia Parsberg  Gothenburg, 23/8-14/9, 2014. (behind Röda Sten Konsthall)

Swedish Radio made a reportage (30 mins) during the whole work-process.
TV showed the installation in Kulturnyheterna, (SVT, 22/8, 2014) and it gives an idea of thephysical experience of the installation.

 

Left screen showing The Chorus of Begging

 

Right screen showing The Chorus of Giving

 

A film ”On the production of the Chorus of Begging and the Chorus of Giving” is screened in the entrance-exit-container, (58mins).
The film is a documentation from the training and interaction of the choirs, day by day. A text belongs to the film where I describe the practical and theoretical context.

This film is not open access, but you can view a photo documentation here http://chorusofgivingchorusofbegging.tumblr.com/
Contact me if you would like to know and see more.

The chorus work alone is also shown as street-screenings, and the soundtrack is released on Spotify 02.2014.

The dissertation, consisting of nine textchapters and six staged works, is available in both Swedish and English in a specially layouted digital presentation at beggingandgiving.se

***

I have held a number of lectures on the project since 2012, and among them maybe the most important was this one:

Lecture at FEAD, 26/3 2015, Göteborg, (European Social Fund)

There is a drama on the streets between between those who beg and those who give, or don’t give. Often both parties appear to want to communicate more, but can’t. The barriers are both emotional and due to language, and many cultural codes are at play. Images of each other, often generated by prejudice and ignorance, are set in play. These images we have – how we picture one another – need to be negotiated, as these images today create a violence against humans.

There is a space of action between us. Art is a way to utilize this space to express the sensual, that which also is the basis for the political: in the affects and reactions in people. If art is about visualising this space of action then the political is about how it is possible to see which images that are relevant in this space, and to activate it.

Cecilia-4

The lecture is published at Socialmedicinsk tidskrift.
(about the journal in English)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* * *

In January 2014, I had a 50% doctoral seminar and in addition to this I had an open guest studio at


 The National Museum of World Culture

 

* * *

The dissertation, consisting of nine textchapters and six staged works, is available in both Swedish and English in a specially layouted digital presentation at beggingandgiving.se

Glänta/Clandestino

Glänta/Clandestino

10.06.09 Peter Ekwiri back in Sweden!

In 2003 Glänta magazine travels to Ghana in order to make a new issue.

Aleksander Motturi and Cecilia Parsberg met Peter Ekwiri, one of the many Asylum seekers who were deported to Ghana despite the fact that he fled to Sweden from Sudan. They met him in a former slave forts in Accra which now works as a prison where he had been imprisoned for three years without trial.

This meeting was also one of the main reasons that the Clandestino Festival began eight years ago.
http://clandestinofestival.org/2011/

Peter Ekwiri is now back in Sweden, and the case is once again relevant, as he is threatened with a new deportation order, without means of redress, for the abuse that Swedish authorities exposed him to.

Clandestino Talks will on the occasion of this present one public testimony from him in hopes of shedding new light on the Swedish refugee policy practice.

Cecilia Parsberg is since 2003 a member of the editing board for GLÄNTA a journal of History of Ideas, Philosophy, Literature and Fine Arts: www.glanta.orghttp://www.eurozine.com

Sometimes, things you don’t say are a part in a lie

Sometimes, things you don’t say are a part in a lie.

The video is filmed in London during 8 months, 1998-99. It is about what’s happening with Theresa, with me and with our relationship during this time.

This is the story:

Theresa asked Cecilia for money in the street. Cecilia gave her some. They started meeting at cafés and became friends. Every time they met, Cecilia filmed Theresa without her knowledge. Theresa always needed money and Cecilia gave it to her. After several meetings, Cecilia told Theresa about the filming and that she wanted to make a video about them. Theresa said it was OK. They continued meeting, Cecilia paid Theresa by the hour for the filming and contacted the Social Security for her.

Theresa had a friend, Helena. One day, Theresa let Helena into Cecilia’s kitchen to give her some food whithout Cecilia seeing. Helena took some money from Cecilias wallet without Theresa seeing and left. Cecilia asked Theresa where the money was. Theresa said she hadn’t taken it and left. Theresa found out that Helena had taken the money. They had a fight and are not friends anymore. Theresa told Cecilia. Cecilia said she wouldn’t ask for the money back, but she didn’t want Theresa to let anybody into her home without her knowing it. Cecilia finished the film. Theresa and Cecilia still meet, always in Cecilias home because Theresa doesn’t have one.

When I meet Theresa she is 16 years old and she is homeless. She is from a small town in Ireland, she came to London a year ago with her parents and she ”didn’t like the atmosphere” at home, as she says, so she made the decision to leave home.

My intention was not to make a video about the history of a young Irish girl in London. This video is my answer to her question of wether I can give her money.

Networking on the wall

Networking on the wall

An essay by Cecilia Parsberg. Published in Glänta 1-2/2006. An English version can be found on Eurozine http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2006-05-30-parsberg-en.html  (See also my reportage for  KOBRA, Swedish TV, 2006)

Since 2003, graffiti artists worldwide have been leaving their marks on the Palestinian side of the demarcation wall being built between Palestinian and Israeli territory.
Swedish artist Cecilia Parsberg’s photographs record what she calls ”an international multitude, a writing−carpet”. ”I am primarily interested in the phenomena of people coming from other countries to paint on the wall, and that they paint on one side of it,” she says. ”The core of this type of network is the connection between the place and activity, the clash of different aesthetic expressions, that there is no typical graffiti−aesthetic.” Are Parsberg’s photographs evidence of a larger movement of aesthetic resistance to the changing value systems of globalization in art and society? Cecilia Parsberg Networking on the wall Palestinian artists and cultural workers talk about the ”art” drawn on the wall demarcating Palestinian and Israeli territory. Their opinions are revealing of the wall’s significance in the Palestinian experience and the function of ”network as resistance”.

 

One hundred policemen cannot attain what beauty
is able to bring about in a violent person.
Edi Rama, Minister of Culture, Albania

 

In October 2005, I set off to Palestine and the wall that has become a place for collective activism and maybe also art. I bring with me Giorgio Agamben’s State of Exception, which I have been reading and reading, hoping to understand how his theories make sense in reality. I want to meet cultural workers in Palestine and listen to their views on the art on the wall. I want to know what they think about the international artists coming there and painting on it. I wonder if the multitude of works can be seen as a kind of collective creativity, a network. I am also curious why the wall is painted on the Palestinian side but hardly on the Israeli side.

 

  Ramalla check-point, Palestinian side, 2006

The Israeli wall is built on the Palestinian side of ”the green line”, the border between Israeli and Palestinian territory agreed on in 1967. The wall winds across Palestinian farmland, which is excavated as the wall is built. Construction started in 2003. On 9 July 2004, it was declared by the International Court of Justice to be in breach of international standards, but that has not prevented construction continuing. When the wall is completed it will be 670 km long.

The wall is not just a political barrier. It has also become a place for international and collective artworks, a surface where networking happens by itself, without the networkers knowing each other, or even the person whose image they are painting onto. The wall is a place of action and a place with great attraction for artists. Many artworks are made about it, but I am interested in the art that is made on it. The question is why artists and others from throughout the world come to paint or write on the wall. ”To show law in its non-relation to life and life in its non-relation to law means to open a space between them for human action, which once claimed for itself the name of ‘politics'”, Agamben writes. Is it in this sphere that these artists are active?

Abu Dis, Palestinian side, 2006

The construction of the wall implements a state of exception, a temporary suspension of legal rights. The notion is juridical and can be activated when a country is struck by natural disasters, strikes, or civil disorder. Agamben claims that today, in practice, the entire world is in a permanent state of exception. This state is an empty space with another value system than the ordinary jurisdictional order. It is made manifest when, for example, the police stop buses and demand that passengers show their papers; when people with the wrong skin or hair colour are arrested as suspects.On 20 November I meet Galit Eliat in Jerusalem. She is the head of Digital Arts in Tel Aviv and engaged in a big project about the art on the wall, where she is curating both Israeli and Palestinian artists. She replies to my question whether there is any art on the Israeli side with the short answer that Israel wants the wall; why then, would they paint on it? For Palestinians, the wall prevents them working in Israel and visiting their relatives on the other side. (They must obtain special ID papers, and that is not easy.)

However, there are rumours about an Israeli settlement that commissioned some of their Russian inhabitants to paint landscapes on the wall. There is also a sector of a highway where stone blocks were delivered with a printed landscape. That the wall is built on Palestinian land is an additional reason why there is no Israeli activity on it. It is built closer to the Palestinian rather than Israeli residential areas, except for the densely populated areas around Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The Israelis are also creating a no man’s land on their side; they have constructed military patrol roads and a landing strip for military aircraft outside Ramallah and other military bases.

Ramallah check point, from the Israeli side, 2006

Civilian motorways are also built with high grass-covered embankments in front of the wall.

Motorway on the Israeli side, 2006

On the Palestinian side, the wall separates farmland from residences, which has caused confrontations in many places. It is above all at these places that I find paintings and texts on the wall.

Graffiti by unknown people, Abu Dis, 2006

From Jerusalem I continue to Bethlehem where there are some very large murals. I photograph them. There is no one around except for a couple of armed Israeli soldiers patrolling on the other side of the checkpoint. And, of course, the surveillance cameras. How could anyone make these gigantic paintings given this surveillance? The largest is perhaps twenty metres wide and eight metres high. It is a very impressive experience to stand in front of the ugly grey wall and the paintings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graffiti by unknown people, Betlehem, 2006

One of those who have painted is Banksy, a London-based artist who came here half a year ago and painted on the wall at around ten different places. He has not signed them, but I know them because he has become well known in the Western art world. When I ask people in Palestine and Israel, they don’t seem to know who he is. In some places, the wall looks like a gigantic scribble board, or solely like a big ugly concrete wall. The wall is ”the ultimate tourist site for a graffiti artist”, as Banksy put it.
In Ramallah and nearby villages, I find two-hundred-metre stretches of wall with paintings and writings. It is an international multitude, a writing-carpet. I can’t call it scribbles, but is it art? Art is a way to represent and communicate, a way to make contact with oneself. But the paintings on the wall are also creative attempts to transcend the political limitations of the wall.

 


Graffiti by Banksy, Abu Dis, 2006


Graffiti by unknown people, Abu Dis, 2006

I am surprised that after a few days at the wall, I feel happy, strong, and maybe even hopeful. I can only explain this as the influence of the art on the wall. The effect reminds me of love messages, like ”I love you” cut into a tree. But these activists and artists have not been concerned to leave their names; it’s not authorship that’s important. There are no tags, either – images and texts melt together. Is all this an attempt to create art or meaning collectively?

Ramallah, the morning of 22 November 2005. I am on my way to a meeting with Faten Farhat, head of the Sakakini Cultural Centre. I pass Ramallah City. The shops are not open; they are usually open at this time, but today is a day of national mourning. I meet a tired Faten. She says she has been up all night because one of their employees has been killed in the bomb attack in Amman, Jordan. The day before, they had been planning which flowers he would have had at his wedding. He was thirty-six.We start to talk about the wall. As head of the Sakaini Cultural Centre and active curator for artists on an international art arena, she receives piles of suggestions from art institutions and artists for art projects on the wall. Most she rejects. One of the most spectacular suggestions came from a clothes designer in New York, who wanted to put on a fashion show at the wall, together with top models. She smiles sadly and says that many don’t even try to imagine how the wall affects the Palestinians. Would Palestinians go to the wall that prevents them going to work, the wall that separates families, to watch a fashion show with the latest fashion from New York? She is not against the fact that art is made on the wall, but she thinks that the projects have to derive from an ethical perspective. She thinks there is a risk that the wall becomes institutionalized, that it will be accepted as something that will stay forever. But she also says that she often leaves the project propositions further to artists in Ramallah, that she doesn’t have time to be fully updated on how they develop. She has, herself, only seen the wall twice – there are many who choose not to see it at all. Her hand moves from her belly to her throat: ”It exists within us”.

Cecilia Parsberg: There are a lot of paintings on the wall. Israelis have also left messages on the wall. What do you think about collaborative works between Israeli and Palestinian artists?

Fatin Farahat: As an institution, we don’t work with Israelis, not because there are no good Israelis, but simply because we need to be consistent. For example, an artist wanted to show Palestinian and Israeli artworks in Paris. He came to me wanting help. I said: the board and I have decided that, until a more just solution exists, there is no need to work with Israeli artists. This is not to say that we don’t encourage our artists to work with Israelis, or that we don’t allow them to. It’s up to them. I tell them that the first thing they need to do is to have a statement, a political statement from the Israeli artists, because as far as I am concerned, one of the artists could be from Likud [the Israeli rightwing party], so try to work on a joint statement that actually says that occupation is wrong, that there is something called the right of returnees, that the wall is wrong, and that that is the basis upon which we want to work together. So in every joint project, and this is the most difficult part, to get the partners to say, prior to working, that they have a very similar, if not the same, political vision of the situation. Otherwise, if you start working with different political visions, the human contact is going to be almost impossible, and the concept of the project will be destroyed. It’s much more difficult for art institutions to make joint works because it’s very difficult to reach these kind of agreements. Sometimes it’s easier on an individual level. There is another thing: if, say, an Israeli institution receives government subsidies, we have a problem. Not with the people, but with the government. If the subsidies come from the Israeli Ministry of Culture, which marginalizes Palestinians culturally, I really don’t want to work with them.

CP: Are Palestinian artists in general aware of this? And would you say that international artists in general are aware that art plays an important political role?

FF: It depends on the artists. For example, I see awareness among those who come and live with Palestinians for a while. Art is a dynamic process in the public sense, too. I am totally in favour of public art, not in the sense of putting up a public monument in the town, but by having the community participate in the creation of the artwork. International artists – I see it all the time – come to me with an idea that looks beautiful on paper, but the moment they see reality they rethink the project, because reality dictates facts. If the focus is the community as such, you need to know it, and to really know the people takes time and patience.
I know the power of the media, and I would like to see models that show real investigation and real commitment to the political issues that are actually ruling the area. International artists need to spend the time you are spending to know the people, to get a feeling for the place. I know from many of my international friends working in Palestine, after two months they have to get out, the siege is getting to them even though they have more freedom of mobility than us.

The next day, at the Art Cafe in Ramallah, I meet Akram Safadi, a Palestinian artist and photographer.
CP: What do you think about the art on the wall?
Akram Safadi: On one side, I think it’s useless, and on another side, I appreciate the political context behind it. I appreciate people coming here in solidarity with us. It’s a popular form of civil resistance against the wall. People still insist on practicing this form of resistance, it’s part of a mass action.It’s adding something human, warm, to the inhuman background the wall constitutes. The designs and paintings transform the surroundings, but the wall itself exists as such and must not become part of a normality. It’s something strange that should be resisted.

Graffiti by unknown people, Abu Dis, 2006

CP: How do you see the role of Fine Arts in an international perspective?
AS:
 Art grows but it doesn’t change anything. It’s more important that the control of distribution of art and the production of art be seen by the public. Media is too much in control of what is seen by people; it doesn’t promote plurality. My opinions are always manufactured by the information that is selected and delivered by the media. That puts a big question mark behind the concept of democracy.

That evening, I have an appointment with the poet Kifah Fanni and the artist and animator Amer Shomali at Stones, an exclusive bar situated in downtown Ramallah.
CP: What do you think about beauty? Do you think the paintings make the wall beautiful?

Amer Shomali: I want the wall to be destroyed, and as an artist I think that when one does something on the wall, it should be like a protest against it, not a piece of art. The important thing is the message. If you build a relation between the wall and your artwork, then you want neither to be destroyed.

Kifah Fanni: I don’t believe the painting is institutionalizing the wall; I don’t see it as acceptance of the wall. Especially the painting where the wall is removed like a curtain showing a view behind, or the one that draws a window on the wall, or Amer’s animated film, where a boy draws a wall on the wall and a dove flies through. It’s a virtual view; the Israelis can limit our sight, but they can’t limit our imagination.

Graffiti by Banksy, Abu Dis, 2006

CP: Do you think the art will have a political impact? I can’t help thinking that if paintings were also made on the Israeli side, it would influence the discussion there.

KF: No, it would be totally different. On the other side, they see the wall as constructive. There could be good paintings made on the other side, but only as absolute negatives, you know, the opposite message.

CP: But the paintings you mention were made by a London-based artist. He might as well have made them on the Israeli side.

KF: Then it would have been other paintings. You can’t paint the same on the other side.

CP: Why not?

KF: Because it’s their will to build this wall; it’s against our will. From our side it’s inappropriate: we want to demolish this wall. If an artist wants to express an Israeli will or aspiration on their side of the wall, he or she would draw another wall on the wall. These people think we are explosive, that we have this explosiveness.

CP: Do you know if there are any Palestinian artists who want to go to the Israeli side and paint something?

KF: You would have to ask if there is any Palestinian who is allowed to go to the Israeli side… I am not underestimating the importance of art, but on a certain level, it’s not a matter of taste. If you are hungry, you eat anything – taste will not be the criteria. And this is how it is; first you move, then you decide if you want to go or not.

CP: But the criteria, and I have to insist on this point, for someone who lives in London, Sweden, Germany, or Italy, and comes here to paint, is different. He or she can choose which side of the wall to paint on.

KF: Are they allowed to?

CP: No, but when did that stop an artist? Graffiti art has been illegal since it was born.

KF: Yes, but you talk about graffiti art in a civil context. Being caught here is not the same as being caught writing graffiti in London. You are convicted for that, you can die for that – for writing words on a wall. It’s not like expressing socialist or capitalist views. It’s about living or not living, the contradiction here is too strong. When a Palestinian goes to write graffiti, they wear a mask, with someone on guard. It’s a big deal. We used to do it when we had poor access to media. In the old days we had typewriters, and each typewriter on the West Bank had a serial number. The Israeli government had these numbers, so it was extremely dangerous. If you had to print pamphlets, it was made with the same degree of danger.

CP: Still, if you are a person from another country and you think ”fuck this wall, I don’t like it, I want to destroy it”, you can choose where to paint your message. That would be to direct a protest that would face the Israelis.

AS: We don’t have that choice. Try yourself and tell me what you have drawn.

KF: There’s a significance that precedes the drawings on the Palestinian side. For the majority of the people on the Palestinian side, it’s allowed, even if it’s not always appreciated. But on the other side, you have a hostile environment.

AS: The Israelis don’t have contact with the wall as we have, because the wall is mostly far from their houses.

CP: Why is it far away from the people?

AS: Because they want more land without people on their side. Most of the Israelis don’t know what the wall looks like, only those people living in distant settlements, like near Jenin. In the Israeli cities they have only heard about the wall in the media. Here in Ramallah we have daily contact with the wall, we are touching it. The people in Tel Aviv won’t go to Bethlehem to paint on the wall. On the other side of the wall there is nothing built, because it was recently, before the wall, our land. Now they are constructing roads. If you drew something on the wall on the Israeli side, there wouldn’t be anyone to see it. What’s the point then?

CP: Just outside the wall at the Kalandia checkpoint [the checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem] the Israelis have built a runway for military aircraft. It’s a security area guarded by stray dogs, really dangerous even to photograph.

AS: It’s useless to draw on the other side. You can reach the Israelis better through media.

KF: It becomes my physical border, my own limitation. Before it’s national, it’s an assault on my individual view.

Graffiti, Betlehem, 2006

AS: It’s not an ethical problem. Maybe it is for foreigners, but for me, it’s an existential problem.

CP: But an art project doesn’t have to be ethical?

KF: Those on the Israeli side willing to make a statement can make joint projects with us. Foreigners come here with their free imaginations, they don’t know the limitations, they want to start a revolution, they don’t know what’s really going on. We spent too much time being lectured to on how to make a revolution, but those lectures don’t bear in mind the forty years of occupation. The idea of revolution is out of context. But sometimes we have to learn from the young, because this long conflict has been a bad experience for us. When a child sees a snake, they want to touch it; when an adult sees a snake, they run away. The Palestinians who praise the intifada are the innocent ones. They are like the foreigners who come here and cannot believe their eyes. That’s why they have extremist ideas and concepts. This is what’s happening to the Palestinian youth, who are checked on each checkpoint. This is not acceptable, we are all born innocent and naive. This is why the intifada took place seven to ten years after the first: when a generation reaches, let’s say, the age of wisdom.

AP: I made a book and animation collecting thousands of drawings from Palestinian schoolchildren. The way that children express themselves on the issue of the wall is very innocent, pure, irrational. It’s not logical to destroy the wall with your naked hands, or with your eyes, or to open a box and find Jerusalem. I imagine myself trying to deal with the wall, looking for the simple ways.

Graffiti by children in Ramallah, 2006

KF: Artists have to go back to childhood, childhood is the master of art. Before we regain innocence, we cannot produce art.

AP: Foreigners are innocent due to a different setting, they don’t live our conflict, our setting. We are born into a place where there are checkpoints, we can’t imagine a life without checkpoints. For international visitors it’s possible to imagine a life without occupation.

KF: People should dare to dream. International art projects and ideas should dream about destroying the wall. I have not examined further if collaborative works have been made between Palestinians and Israelis, or what their agreement looks like. Networks don’t necessarily have to cross borders. I am primarily interested in the phenomena of people coming from other countries to paint on the wall, and that they paint on one side of it. The core of this type of network is the connection between the place and the activity, the clash of different aesthetic expressions, that there is no typical graffiti-aesthetic.

Eugenio Molini works with Managing Diversity, a network of consultants specialised in issues of diversity. Back in Sweden, I ask him how he defines a network. He answers that networks are based on passion, that the networkers act through ”swarming”. The driving force can be personal or collective; the organizational principle is founded on engagement and responsibility, responsibility for one’s own actions. While participants in a group or a constellation are ”in” or ”out”, the individuals in a network are connected or disconnected, which in principle means that the network develops into something else. Molini argues that the need for resistance doesn’t have to be the reason a network is created – an example of the contrary is the pilgrimage.

Graffiti by Palestinian artist, Ramallah, 2006

Inside and outside Palestine, a Palestinian artist is first a representative of Palestine. There are few actions strong enough to go beyond that role. But if this is the case, what do the anonymous artists who paint on the wall represent? Are they participants in a bigger movement reacting to the changing value systems of globalization within art and society? The nine-metre-high Israeli wall separating people from people seems to function as blotting paper for artists and activists, at the same time as being a manifestation of a hidden agenda that doesn’t care about international law. Many of the paintings show openings in the wall: doors, windows, sky; they ”dissolve the wall” and could, in a way, be read as metaphors for communication, for the Internet and the digital boxes that transmit all the channels in the world. (Digital television is more common in Palestinian homes than in Swedish). It is not the aesthetic expression that is the mutual denominator, it is the message.

Graffiti by Banksy, Betlehem, 2006

The Israeli wall is not the only wall being built worldwide. Are walls being built primarily to separate poor and rich? The illusion of freedom is a necessity for every person, but freedom for a poor non-European may be to get inside the European wall, while freedom for a rich European is to keep that person away. On their album The Wall (1979), Pink Floyd portrayed a school system where corporal punishment was still normal. The wall they sang about was a mental wall, a border behind which society exercised sanctioned violence, all according to the rules of the school. But if the difference between the system of rules and life is too big, a kind of violence is exercised on what the citizen understands as justice. Life is, according to Pink Floyd, a product of the machine. ”Welcome my son, welcome to the machine. Where have you been? It’s all right, we know where you’ve been. You’ve been in the pipeline […] And you didn’t like school and you know you are nobody’s fool.”

Around the Israeli wall, two opposite forces act, one that institutes and makes, and one that deactivates and deposes. ”Bare life”, writes Giorgio Agamben, ”is a product of the machine and not something that pre-exists it, just as law has no court in nature or in the divine mind. Life and law, anomie and nomos, auctoritas and potestas, result from the fracture of something to which we have no other access than through the fiction of their articulation and the patient work that, by unmasking this fiction, separates what it had claimed to unite.”

Pink Floyd sings about an invisible wall, a wall is taking shape on the record. The Israeli wall is concrete, which doesn’t hinder the art and fiction partly dissolving it. In both cases, art is a political action, an action that severs the nexus between violence and law, and instead opens a space for negotiation between life and right.

Graffiti by Banksy, Betlehem, 2006

an essay by Cecilia Parsberg, also published at:
http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2006-05-30-parsberg-en.html

 

Reference:

State of exception, Giorgio Agamben, The University of Chicago Press (2005)

http://banksy.co.uk/

Cecilia Parsberg reportage for  KOBRA, Swedish TV, (2006) on the paintings on the wall with focus on BANKSYS graffiti.

 

A Heart From Jenin

To see my film, go to: https://vimeo.com/93415169

A Heart From Jenin, 2006

This is the story of Ahmed’s heart. Ahmed was a Palestinian boy who lived in Jenin in the West Bank. In November, 2005, the 12-year old Ahmed was shot by an Israeli sniper. He was in a coma when he was taken to the hospital in Haifa, Israel, where he died later. Ahmed’s parents decided to donate their son’s heart to Israel. Ahmed’s mother says that the donation was made in the spirit of ‘Salam’ (peace) with Israel “We are sending a message to the whole world that we love peace. We donated six of Ahmed’s organs to the hospital. It’s in the possession of the hospital to donate, regardless of whether the receiver is Jewish, Muslim, Druze or Christian.” A 12-year old girl Samah, received Ahmed’s heart. The film is also about her living in Peq’in, Israel. She sometimes takes charge of the camera and film. She calls Ahmeds father and mother in Jenin. Samah’s father says that Ahmed’s family can regard his daughter as their own and they sometimes meet. The gift of the heart drills a hole in the wall – when it’s recieved.

(click to watch the film)

The border between the two countries of the families is an eight meter high wall. The conflict is difficult and the occupation impacts life in Palestine. Jenin camp was founded in 1948 when many palestinians – like Ahmeds grandparents – fled from Haifa, now the Israeli side of the wall.
I had returned to Jenin Refugee Camp in November 2005, to see how it had been rebuilt from the demolition in 2002 (see Jenin).  I met the parents of Ahmed who had just been shot dead. To me, these two families act in a way that illuminates how conflicts can be solved, by making contact.

Exhibitions

THE INSTALLATION HAS BEEN SHOWN AT:
2006 – BildMuseet Umea www.crusading.se
2006 – Fotografins Hus, Stockholm
2007 – LänsMuseet Västernorrland and Jacob’s church Stockholm
2007 – 2008 – Malmoe Museer, Malmoe
2008 – World Culture Museum, Gothenburg www.varldskulturmuseet.se

Screenings and Seminars

SCREENING + SEMINAR: Lens Politica – Film and Media Art Festival 19.-23.11.2008
Helsinki www.lenspolitica.net MKC, Fittja Stockholm, okt 2008
School of Global Studies, Göteborg, sept 2008 Kulturverkstan, Göteborg, sept 2008
Center for peace Research/Border Poetics group at Institute for Culture og Litterature, Tromsoe Norway, Aug 2008.
FN-Sambandet, Verdenteatret, Tromsoe, Norway. www.fn.no/distriktskontor/nord/internasjonalt_seminar Key Note Speaker at the conference: Sensitive Peace Research, Tampere Peace Research Institute, Univerity of Tampere 16-18 April

Photos from the exhibitions (click on images to enlarge)

 

World Culture Museum, Göteborg

The wallpaper is made of 300 photos of the demolition of the Jenin camp, 2002 (see Jenin) Jenin is – as a shadow – written left to right on one wall  and in Arabic; right to left, on the other wall.

Fotografins hus Malmö

The installation consist of: -a shorter version of the film: 30mins -a wall paper: 2 X 6 meter showing 300 photos from Jenin camp, the destruction in April 2002 -a map showing borders, built wall and planned wall -a print of the heart and a drawing of the history: 50 X 70cm

See: http://this.is/Jenin

 

About A heart from Jenin, text by Jan-Erik Lundström, head of Bildmuseet, Umeå.

(2006)

Cecilia Parsberg’s artistic practice have often brought her towards the hazardous and complex but important and necessary political undertaking in speaking about the other, the marginalized or underprivileged of society (engaging both sexual, social and political displacement and suppression in her work), or the underdogs in a political conflict such as the Palestinians; generating challenging works of art, blending documentation and activism, where often the artist herself is present as witness, investigator, mediator, supporter. Over the last few years, Parsberg has maintained a particular focus on Palestine, the living conditions of Palestinians and life on the occupied West Bank and the Gaza strip, resulting in several projects such as the videos I can see the House or To Rachel, with the story of the killing of the young American activist Rachel, run over by an Israeli tank or the action East or West, Home is Best. One of Parsberg’s visits, in April 2002, coincided with the brutal Israeli army invasion of the village and refugee camp Jenin on the West Bank, during which Jenin was more or less almost completely demolished and many Palestinians killed, the numbers uncertain since Israel blocked any inpendent investigation. Parsberg was able to enter Jenin in the early aftermath of the invasion, managing one of the few documentations of its kind of the extent of the destruction of Jenin. This material became the website www.this.is/jenin, a rich archive of images and written testimonies on the fate of Jenin. The photographs on display in the present exhibition are sourced from this body of photographs, supplanting the website notion of an open source archive with offering the opportunity to re-focus and engage more specifically with individual images and their stories. It does not however change the overall sense of perverse, meaningless, and unbounded mayhem. In the exhibition space, the Jenin photographs are juxtaposed with the video A Heart from Jenin, the artist’s return to a largely rebuilt Jenin in November 2005, three years after the Israeli attack on Jenin. Rebuilt yes, but hardships in Jenin continue.

A Heart from Jenin’s key narrative is the extra ordinary story of Ahmed, a 13-year old Palestinian boy who is shot to death by Israeli soldiers, and becomes clear that the boy will not survive, decides to allow the child’s organs to be donated. The 26 minutes long video traces the actual event of the boy’s casualty through conversations/interviews with the near family, with people from the neighbourhood but also with writers, university professors – one from Israel – and intellectuals, enabling a broader picture of life on the West bank. But it is the gesture of the parents, the donation, which defines the film. For as it turns out, the boy, when pronounced dead, becomes the donor of five organs. His heart is given to a 12-year old Israeli girl from Haifa, who has for years been waiting for a heart transplant and whose life now is saved. The tragic and horrible killing of Ahmed brings out, through the parents’ act of allowing donation, a gesture of reconciliation, of appeasement. Especially that the heart is not a metaphor; the heart of Ahmed lives on in the body of the Israeli girl – as beautifully illustrated in the drawing by Cecilia Parsberg on the journeys and meanings of a heart, presented in the exhibition. Their parents are quoted as saying: “we want them [Ahmed’s parents] to consider our daughter as their daughter”. From those bestowed the most pain come the most human of gestures.

 

Map

Jenin is situated in the North of the West Bank. The refugee camp, which is today a part of the city, is inhabited by 13,000 people of whom over 42% under the age of 15. The Camp was built by refugees from Haifa after the 1948 war, and is one of the most frequently targeted areas throughout the history of the Israeli occupation. A large number of suicide bombers came from there. In April 2002 the Jenin Refugee Camp was totally destroyed by the Israeli occupation forces. There is very limited documentary material about this event as Jenin was under siege, and we were only a few photographers who managed to find a way into the city. The United Nations was not let in by the Israelis until a week later. I, and my writer friend Ana Valdés, have uploaded all my photos and her texts onto the site http://this.is/Jenin Two months later Israel started the construction of the wall which stretches from North of Jenin and continues to the south encircling the West Bank. (see: http://this.is/TheWall)

 

Jacobs church, Stockholm