In The House of the Eyes we traced the disjointed stories and entangled recollections of
our stay in Ramallah, through an intricate and disorienting documentary about the latest bombings on Gaza, the first Palestinian International Art Biennial, and our loves. Made
with the most private resources possible elaborated facing on oneself, it is being told through a memory diary illustrated by fragments of daily life as well as excerpts from art pieces and performances of the Art Biennial and Al Jazeera’s archival footage.
Instead of following a classical story structure, the film aims to drag the subject into our living rooms, and the viewer finds himself falling within, as much as a physical journey
and mental wandering. The House of the Eyes analyses the relationship between different realities taking place simultaneously, questioning their status as fixed constants and positioning them instead as ongoing processes that are continuously made up through repetition, each recalling and changing the next, continuously adding layers. Intimate and small details are given importance, many shots are framed close-ups or shot out of a moving car. Without clear distinctions, images from the television and from the Art Biennial mold together often making it hard to distinguish where images from daily life end and art performances begin.
The film’s documentation of the artistic and historical events and their criticism are contained in the same frames. As a visual essay, it reflects on the function of art in times
of crisis and upon becoming ourselves subjects of the film as designers, intruders and narrators.
Martina Petrelli — March 2014
↓ Article extract from the <a href=”http://qalandiyainter.tumblr.com/” title=”Qalandiya International Blog” target=”_blank”>Qalandiya International Art Biennial Blog</a> held together with <a href=”http://www.donnaverheijden.nl/” title=”Donna Verheijden” target=”_blank”>Donna Verheijden.
Convivenza: (italian) — this term refers to the act of living together in the same place, with
a sense of belonging to something or at least with the awareness of the existence of the other as someone different from ourself.
Convivenza is never easy. That it is living together, working together, or simply taking
in consideration the people around us. It implies determination, energy, respect, open-
-mindedness and love.
I shared convivenza within three continents, more than twelve cities, and I carry in me a daily convivenza of cultures from the nomad life of mine. Nevertheless, despite all the places and all the people, it is only one year that I am experiencing a full-scale convivenza. You all saw her. She wears red lipstick. She wears it when we work, when we talk, when we walk, when we stay at home or when we go out. When she doesn’t wear it, it is still her. Others don’t always recognize her, but you can be sure that her lipstick is always somewhere in her pockets or in her Mary Poppin’s bag. Actually, it could almost be seen as a convivenza-a-tre: Martina, Donna and the red lipstick. You should have seen my face when I first saw her. We were not friends. It took us time, and trust. Trust has been our first essay as a working-duo:
a confrontation between South of Italy and North of Netherlands, between an ex-tomboy and
a red-lipstick girl.
Now, you will ask me: what does all this have to do with the Qalandiya International Blog?
The answer could be as complicated as the simplest one I decided to give: life.
Aware that such a text will appear throughout an official Blog — and most of all, on the Internet — I felt that I should write to whoever you reader are sincere with. Sincerity is what brought us here, to Palestine. Sincerity is what each of the artists and curators of the Qalandiya International are delivering, and what made possible — within many other values — the collaboration between the seven institutions that created and that are participating in the Biennial.
In an era of world crisis and moral shift, change forces to think in a different way and find alternatives. Artistic practices question more and more the place of their productions, what do they represent and what is their place in society. Art and Design communicate and highlight structures applying group’s methodologies to their imagery; re-envisage society bases through renewed points of view and re-defined conditions. White cubes are no longer the only environment and display for artistic practices, since their starting and living place is the context of multiple realities.
Palestine is one of the most striking examples of unitarian reality of the world, within a reality which is a context of multiple fabulations. As an army of Don Quijotes’, Palestinians seem to be the most obstinate opponents of evidence, the biggest enemy of resignation. Their freedom from the conventional concept of life makes me and D. feel as if we could conquer the world — in an occupied territory.
This land seems to be a universal sample of world and human issues, present in their extreme standings and concentrated in such a small piece of land. The experience of it makes personal bases, structures and points of view tremble. The turbulence created by
it reaches the deepest feelings and thoughts, realities melt down and identity is lost within
a sight of perspectives.
Palestine lives through the ungraspable: man can occupy places, but they can not control culture, history, music or art. Thoughts. These are only exchangeable via understanding between human beings.
The zero edition of the Qalandiya International Art Biennial gives a stage to these thoughts, which makes it an intriguing event in the history of Palestine and its reflection in the world.
Part of a broader ongoing research for our graduation — within the shaping of a new wave
of critical Graphic Design — questioning the notions of documentary and of archive related to social, political, historical and personal points of view; our stay here represents a personal and professional challenge.
Within a necessity to shape a new imagery by Palestinians and of Palestinians, our documentation aims to understand its creation through this Art Biennial: what does it state and what does it represent? How do artistic practices become a Power within it?
Will the creation of a new palm-line trace the future of this land? (1) Will the wall be dismantled crumble by crumble to create massive play-balls as a new Stonehenge? (2) Will the creation of a new National Anthem transform Palestine in a huge Baklava and make the occupation leave by the force of a shoe — whether they like it or not? (3) Will a live collective reading between three different cities and all the houses that a radio-emission can reach, become a new form of manifestation such as a human-microphone? (4) Or will hours of knotting the creation of an icon, together with old women from Farkha village, become a modern version of the mythological Fatae, presiding over the destiny of man: spinning the thread of life, dispensing the fates assigning one to each of us and inexorably cutting the thread of life at the appointed time? (5)
At the end of it all: are the œuvres of this Art Biennial fighting the occupation as multiple solutions to the conflict? Or are they confronting the conflict by not talking about it, creating
a parallel aesthetic and intellectual world which create and state Palestine, acknowledging
Due to the notions of time, space, and of the individual, the “real” corresponds specifically to our own personal eyes, sensations and experiences. Other realities and images of the world can be defined as given. I believe that realities, as subjective as they can be, are all somehow part of everyone’s (hi)story.
I came to see mine within Palestine.
To understand it. With determination, energy, respect, open-mindedness and love.
A new convivenza to embrace, together with all of its personal yet universal stories.
«Today the power of art can be understood in an increasingly expansive mode:
the exceptional character of art does not lie in the object or experience it produces
but in the sort of social relations artistic practice can put in motion.»
“Artistic Labour, Enclosure and the New Economy”, A.L. Cuenca — Afterall n°30.
Martina Petrelli — Ramallah, November 2012, <a href=”http://qalandiyainter.tumblr.com/” title=”Qalandiya International Blog” target=”_blank”>Qalandiya International Art Biennial Blog</a>
(1) Palmystery, a palm reading and tattooing performance by Wafa Hourani.
Gestures in Time — Jerusalem Show VI, Beit Aneeseh Restaurant and Bar, Ramallah.
Tuesday 6th of November 2012.
(2) Concrete Palestine #1, Khaled Jarrar, 2012.
(3) Music in the Attic: Tasarruf I & II, collective music performance with musicians Samer Jaradat, Mohamed Najem, Ibrahim Najem, and Basel Zayed. Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center, Ramallah. Monday 5th of November and Sunday 11th of November 2012.
(4) The Pessoptimist Marathon: contemporary encounters with Saeed. Live streaming audio performance by Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Marwa Arsanios. Gestures in Time — Jerusalem Show VI. The Educational Bookshop Cafe, Jerusalem — Beit Aneeseh Restaurant and Bar, Ramallah — Radio Beirut, Lebanon. Tuesday 6th of November 2012.
(5) Mohamad Bouazizi, Majd Abdel Hamid, 2012.