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.


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.


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.



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

Private Business

Private Business

First shown at Schaper Sundberg Gallery, Stockholm, Sweden, August through October 1999. ”I can see you but you can’t see me” was shown 2011 in the Lust och Last group show National Museum, Stockholm, also shown in a touring exhibition Konstfeminism throughout Sweden 2005-2006. ”Corner” was sold and placed at the University in Skövde where it caused a lot of discussion and an answer from the Minister of Culture
(se below on this page).

The large size of the prints is necessary to see all the details. They are analog negatives (Hasselblad panorama camera).
The photo series originates from my fictitious idea of an international egg and spermbank accessible to everyone. The first photograph, entitled; The International egg and spermbank is of a city and the air space immidiately above it. The air is also an image of an unlimited space, which stems from the fact that many egg and sperm donators and recievers make contact in cyberspace; the collective fertilization space. Cyberspace does not exist as a space, it could however exists as soon as one acts.

The international egg and spermbank (Lambda process, Analog panorama-negative, C-type print 3mX1,5m.)

Corner (Analog panorama-negative, C-type print 3mX1,5m.)

The house to the left is the only library there is for womens literature in London. The couple has a relationship. There is always a power relation as well as trust in relationships. The structure of our society is built by relationships. The corner is the part that is bearing, as is trust in a relationship.


I can see you but you can´t see me (Analog panorama-negative, C-type print 3mX1,5m.)

The photograph is playing with the viewer’s gaze, the vagina is big as a head – hence the size of the photo in the presentation – and ”the vagina sees the viewer in the eyes” and says ”I can see you but you can see me” and at the same time the woman’s head is gone and her hands make signs for eyes.

Fotot leker med betraktarens blick. Vaginan är stort som ett huvud — därav storleken på fotot i presentationen — och ”vaginan ser betraktaren i ögonen” och säger ”I can see you but you can´t see me” och samtidigt är hennes huvud borta och händerna gör tecken för ögon.



The weathergirl (Analog panorama-negative, C-type print 3mX1,5m.)

This is taken in the back yard of a building where a musician lives.

He records sounds from the atmosphere via these antennas. The woman has braces. She is a witch of today, telling stories and connecting via her braces to her rings to the antennas. Her sayings weaves into the radiowaves.


The Blue Angel Bar (Analog panorama-negative, C-type print 3mX1,5m.)

The woman is balancing and trying to find her axis and relax, the man under her is contemplating his childhood. This act affects the whole shivering moving creative structure of the society. The society is made of relationships. In this way every private and intimate as well as public act by every person is political.


I love myself and I understand you think I´m difficult. (Analog panorama-negative, C-type print 3mX1,5m.)

The fool (Analog panorama-negative, C-type print 3mX1,5m.)

”The fool” is about an inevitable ideal-state-of-mind. To be foolish is a kind of openess. The swan is calmly lying in the trash in her own beauty. It’s stupid to build a nest at such a place, but on the other hand: what can you do?


God is love (C-type print 110 x 70cm)

The photo was placed at the far end of the gallery. The title is taken from the tattoo on her arm.

Scarring is a documentation of a scarring, with an explanatory text mounted beside on the wall. You have a conception about something, an ideology, you are part of a political discussion etc. An experience can cut the belief behind one’s conception. This is how I work.


Så här svarar Kulturministern angående fotot ”Corner” i Skövde.

Fråga för skriftligt svar. Den 20 december

Fråga 2002/03:356 av Yvonne Andersson (kd) till kulturminister Marita Ulvskog om konstnärlig utsmyckning av myndigheter.

Staten byggnader, myndigheter och liknande utsmyckas med stora mängder konst. Konsten ska bidra till en god arbetsmiljö för de människor som arbetar eller vistas i byggnaderna. Konsten köps in av Statens konstråd som ansvarar för den konstnärliga utsmyckeningen av samtliga statliga byggnader. Inköpen görs i samverkan med representanter från den myndighet där konsten ska placeras.Självklart är det svårt att göra alla nöjda när det gäller val av konst till en byggnad. Vissa människor kan vara mycket kritiska till en målning eller en skulptur som andra älskar. I vissa fall kan det dock finnas en bred samstämmighet kring ett verk. På Skövde högskola finns i entrén ett målning som många är kritiska till eftersom den ger associationer som inte alla uppskattar. Målningen föreställer en man som ligger på backen, och en kvinna som står på honom. Så många har nu blivit illa berörda av målningen att högskola beslutat att arbeta för att den ska tas bort. Högskolan får dock inte själva ta bort eller flytta den utan detta måste göras i samråd med Statens konstråd. Trots att högskolan tagit kontakt med Statens konstråd och förklarat att de är missnöjda med målningen har inte konstrådet gett dem tillåtelse att flytta målningen.

Vad avser ministern att göra för att öka myndigheternas möjlighet att påverka den konstnärliga utsmyckningen i deras närmiljö?

Svar på fråga 2002/03:356 om konstnärlig utsmyckning av myndigheter. Den 15 januari

Kulturminister Marita Ulvskog.

Yvonne Andersson har ställt frågan till mig vad jag avser att göra för att öka myndighetens möjlighet att påverka den konstnärliga utsmyckningen i deras närmiljö.Frågan är föranledd av en diskussion som förts efter att ett konstverk av Cecilia Parsberg, tidigare professor vid Umeå konsthögskola och en av våra internationellt mest framstående konstnärer idag, blivit placerat av Statens konstråd i entrén till Skövde högskola. Yvonne Andersson menar att många blivit illa berörda av verket och att högskolan beslutat att arbeta för att det ska tas bort, men att Konstrådet inte gett dem tillåtelse att flytta verket.

Jag delar Yvonne Anderssons uppfattning att man ska efterfråga och respektera brukarens uppfattning om de konstverk som ska placeras i den miljö som är en del av deras vardag och jag menar att det är viktigt att finna goda former för samråd så att denna uppfattning på ett lämpligt sett kanaliseras in i beslutsfattandet. Detta samråd bör präglas av öppenhet från alla parter och en ömsesidig respekt för den speciella kompetens man företräder. Men att man, även med, dessa goda förutsättningar, skulle kunna utesluta alla möjligheter till konflikter i ett sammanhang när man diskuterar och besluar om frågor med koppling till samtidskonsten menar jag är orimligt, om det ens är önskvärt.

Som jag har kunnat inhämta från Konstrådet har de vedertagna samrådsformerna iakttagits i detta projekt. Högskolan i Skövde är ett mindre projekt utan beställda konstverk där man erbjudits möjligheten att föra samrådsdiskussionen genom att verk placerats under en prövotid. Enligt uppgift kommer det nämnda konstverket, som en följd av den diskussion som har förts mellan företrädare för högskolan och Konstrådets projektledare, inte få sin placering i Skövde högskola efter prövotiden. Enligt min uppfattning visar detta att de arbetsformer som Konstrådet praktiserar innebär att brukaren/mottagaren har ett fullgott inflytande över vilka verk som ska placeras i deras arbetsmiljö.

Samtidigt vill jag betona betydelsen av att en verksamhet som Statens Konstråds förmår att föra ut även de senaste och kanske mest krävande konstuttrycken i den offentliga miljön. Detta är en uppgift förenad med vissa uppenbara svårigheter, men som jag menar är central för verksamhetens konstnärliga och kulturpolitiska legitimitet. Dessa konstverk kräver noggranna introduktioner och andra former av uppbackning, men de kräver också ett öppet sinne från mottagarhåll inför det nya och okända.

Det är inte alltid det omedelbara intrycket av ett konstverk som blir det bestående, det är inte heller det mest lättillgängliga och begripliga verket som blir det mest betydelsefulla. Det omdelbara motstånd man kan känna inför något hos ett konstverk kan med tiden visa sig vara det som är dess viktigaste kvalitet. Att betydande samtida konstverk ändå kan visa sig olämpliga att placera i vissa miljöer hör självfallet också till denna bild. Jag har fullt förtroende för Konstrådets förmåga att på bästa sätt hantera dessa svåra avvägningar.