From June 6th to 12th 2011, following the 2008 initiative by the A.M. Qattan Foundation (Ramallah) and Les Instants Vidéo (Marseille), in partnership and with the support of more than 20 Palestinian and international organisations, took place the second Video art & performance festival in Palestine /si:n/
For long, I thought that the most important, the most amazing, the most difficult had been made: supporting the birth of a video art and performance festival in Palestine (in May 2009). But in an artistic commitment, like in a love relationship or in a revolutionary practise, the most difficult is to last long. This is how I felt for the opening of the Second video art and performance festival, in the Qattan Foundation garden in Ramallah last June 6th. In the context of a cruel and wearing occupation that has been going on since 1948, this event shall be considered in itself as a political and poetical act, which extent is quite uneasy to evaluate yet.
From the very beginning of this experience, I adopted a line of conduct which is to only report what I saw or what I heard from a reliable source. I saw the ugliness of the wall, of the settlements, of the fields of uproot olive trees, and the ugliness of the arrogant settlers bearing arms in Hebron... I saw in Hebron the wires hanged above the streets as a protection against the throwing of stones or garbage, the words written on a door "gaze the arabs", the children forced to cross a cemetery to reach their school, the check points willing to reduce you to the status of animal... I met men who, sometimes from the age of 13, were sent to prison, mothers which geographic references are the prisons where their children are locked... And I am not going to speak about the 1300 persons dead in Gaza during the winter 2007... No, I won't speak about them, to nip hate in the bud" and keep tears behind the eyes... I want to look like this little character I met here and there in Ramallah: Handala. A little boy, his hands clasped behind his back, who will keep himself turned back until he can return to his homeland. One could expect to find posters on the walls calling for a merciless struggle against the occupying forces, which would be fair enough, but instead there is this character with spiky hair created by the Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali, assassinated in 1987.
In spite of it all, life is stronger. And the festival dedicated to video arts and performance is for sure on that side. It seems that the people of Palestine belongs to the Party of the Rose Claudel is speaking about, the rose that says that it isn't its thorn that protect it but its fragrance. Everyday, I understand a bit more Jean Genet when he said he was supporting the struggle of the Palestinians because they were handsome.
For one week, Palestinian artists met with artist from France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Croatia, Colombia, Kirghizstan.... The audience encountered works (films from around 30 countries, installations, performances), heard conferences, dealt with aesthetic, technical, poetical and political questions, followed a workshop... In 15 different places in the towns of Ramallah, Jerusalem, Birzeit, Bethlehem, Gaza...(for more informations please have a look at Les Instants facebook,
or /si:n/ facebook http://sinfestival.blogspot.com/2011/05/blog-post_31.html
And soon a catalogue will be published.
I have been lucky enough to be part of Les Instants Vidéo project since its birth in 1988 and I went through great experiences. But this one has something special. The A.M. Qattan Foundation together with the other partners put their trust in Les Instants Vidéo team, to share the accomplishment of the festival for the second time, and I take it as an honour, a chance and a big responsibility.
The third edition of the festival will take place in 2013. This is the year we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of video art. It is also the year Marseille will become the European Capital of Culture.
Our aim is to twin Marseille with Palestine so that the Estates Generous of video art we are going to organise, state with force that electronic poetry is an emancipation strength, that the poetical revolutions of languages (written ones as well as audiovisual) are a necessity to think the word differently and to transform it.
But before, from November 7th to 13th , during the 24th Festival Les Instants Vidéo in Marseille, we will present a flamboyant "Back from Palestine"...
The poetic struggle has just started, let's carry on...