Parhesia Group With Sadaka-Reut and the Arab – Jewish Communal Center
10.11.2007 | 12:00
Opening Event includes a tour and meeting with Ajami residents
Initiated by “Ayam” with the support of the Tel Aviv – Jaffa Municipality’s Culture & Arts Division, Department of Arts / The Israeli Center for Digital Art, Holon / The New Israel Fund
Autobiography of a City
The project turns the public sphere of the quarter – the sidewalks, roads, fences, the fronts of houses – into a visual Arabic- Hebrew dictionary. The project was formed as a result of a meeting with pupils from the quarter who, together with the residents, decided on places that should be marked with words. The words, designated in spray paint, in Arabic with a Hebrew transcript and translation into Hebrew, create a walking tour course and a story. This is the story that the residents of the quarter chose to tell about themselves and their language. The concept is to turn the quarter into a visual Arabic dictionary in urban standards. The presence of the memory and everyday life of Jaffa as an Arabic city appears, for the most part, in the private sphere. The Arab identity of the city is slowly disappearing from its public sphere, as a result of the processes of urban development and economic developments of the real estate market which are leading to the banishment of the Arab residents of the quarter. “Through Language” is a course for a walking tour that integrates getting acquainted with the quarter through wandering around and being invited to read it in a new perspective. The words constitute a key to many stories. Memories, hopes and fears, which, for the most part, are only heard inside the houses, without their bearing any kind of presence in the public sphere or its discourse.
The project “Path of Language” was first presented in August 2006, in the framework of the exhibit “Neighborhood Works” (Curators: the Sala-manca Group), in the German Colony in Jerusalem. In Jaffa, the project is being carried out in collaboration with the Sadaka- Re’ut Association that is active among the youth in the city.
Arabic-Hebrew signs made for the protests of summer 2011 in Tel-Aviv by Parrhesia members.
Through Language is a public art project, a visual dictionary and site-specific glossary alternating between Arabic, German and Hebrew.
The project was carried out in two places in Israel – in Jerusalem and in Jaffa – employing Arabic and Hebrew transcriptions and translations. It was a response to the widespread practice of Israeli extremists who erase the Arabic language from street signs, using stickers or spray paint , and to the state practices of Palestinian cultural oppression through marginalizing and under-privileging Arabic, an official language in Israel. The Arabic words, constitute keys to stories, memories, hopes and fears, which, for the most part are heard only inside private homes, without having presence in the public sphere or its discourse. The idea is to allow Arabic a presence in our public life. We would like to promote the cultural presence of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, the native people and culture upon whose destruction our state is built, and to express our wish to become culturally integrated in the Middle East.
Giving the Arabic and the Hebrew languages presence in the public sphere in Europe may evoke questions relating to the presence of our languages and culture within Europe. We hope to question the current tendency of the Western world to perceive the Arabic and Hebrew languages and culture as a threat and thus refer to the constant uprising of xenophobia and Anti-Semitism in Europe. It also proposes language and culture as an arena for listening and engaging in dialogue with the other. AugartenStadt was not chosen by chance; as “verlorene Insel (lost island)” it was the main scene of Jewish displacement in 1938 – and as a site of new migration, it is the space of current conflicts between populism, xenophobia and Muslim self-assertion.
The contribution of art, and cultural work in general, to participatory social affairs and to developing active and meaningful citizenship could be understood through some of the practices that artists develop:
Creativity, exploration and playfulness
Independent and critical thinking
Courage and freedom
Artists can develop and explore ideas, visions, identities, narratives, discourses and utopias.
Artists make stories, they tell stories, his-stories and hopefully her-stories also.
Artists deal and negotiate with different bodies on many levels such as ideas, feelings, stories, the levels of materials, craftsmanship, aesthetics, presentation and representation, in as much as levels of production, timetable, resources, deadlines, PR, etc.
Artists have room to explore with different forms of dialogue, to makes some cracks within a frozen discourse, using images, voices and gestures, new and old ideas.
The practice of art makes us be experienced living within the tension of individuality and the need for a dialogue with audience, thus continuously develop dialogue between self and community, cultivating our individual and collective identity.
The practice of art gives us a stage (with the amplifiers of Media), allow us to elaborate our voices, a space to tell narratives. At times, depending to a great extent on the context and level of our citizenship and participation, we are being heard, and we might influence our realities.
Being self motivators and hard workers sometimes help leading us to fruitful participation.