MANIFESTO FOR AN ARTISTIC INTIFADA
This is an exercise in self-reflection - an artistic intifada.
We call it an artistic intifada - not to claim any revolutionary agency or power, but to aggregate works that have at their core a very specific politic, that of resistance in a multitude of manifestations. Intifada, Arabic for “Uprising” had become synonymous with particular political moments in the history of Palestine since the inception of the state of Israel and the effects that ensued. As such, an artistic uprising while revolutionary in its connotation is a collection of works that pools together various forms of expression that rise up/speak to, about, against and above the conditions of Palestinian existence post 1948. At their core, the works featured in Artistic Intifada express not a singular monolithic Palestinian experience or stance (because there can never be just one) - it is not simply “pro-Palestinian” because what does being “Pro-Palestinian” really mean?
The term “pro-Palestinian” is codified to address a multiplicity of identities and experiences. The predominant usage of this term rampantly disregards the intricacy of these marginalized existences. In the case of Palestine the historical precedent of ruling powers defining when and where and what Palestine means has been incorporated into the social fabric of a community. A community that simultaneously experiences exile, diaspora and nomadism and resists the same with equal investment.
Directly or implicitly, some common features of the works in the collection deal with questions of identity, of life under occupation, of diasporic existence, of refugee statuses, of memory, nostalgia, claims, of mapping and others.
It recognizes Palestinians’ right to self-determination. It focuses on Palestine, its people, politics, culture and place in the world through artistic expressions. So is this “pro-Palestinian?” Yes, in that it advocates a reclaiming of the terms of discourse. It acknowledges space to turn fragments into tools to work upon the collapsed script of “pro-Palestinian.”
Given these notions, how can we begin to curate practices of expression and articulation?
Our intention is not to limit the forms of expression to a canonically prioritized medium, rather, it is to engage in an exploration of the possibilities of creative thought and intent that transcends the chosen medium.
We do this by considering any form that lends itself to articulation, works that collectively negotiate identity, but do not compromise.
In this space exists a desire for showcasing assertions, expressions, articulations in whatever form they may manifest.
Interoperability is the modus operandi of this space.
In this collection, different forms be they films, illustrations, performances, poems, installations, photography, music, books, comics, caricatures, posters, animation, theatre, sculptures, drawings, paintings, visualizations, imaginations, insurrections, interventions, reactions, responses, and others are welcome. These forms, take liberties not unusually available to conventional means of expression or modes of production - they express the traditionally inexpressible through an artistic impetus. in that regard, it transcends prescriptive norms and thus forms an uprising, an intifada rather, of the most unconventional persuasion. The majority of the works are created by Palestinians with a wide range of experiences and conditions shaping their forms of expression. However, the collection is not limited to Palestinian artistic endeavors only, rather they include works that challenge a history of systemic domination, particularly that created by Zionist ideas as they manifested post-1948 and the subsequent establishment of the state of Israel on Palestine.
We recognize that we are starting from a position of constraint. Whether it is the platform on which we chose to display the forms of expression, or the parameters, technical, editorial or otherwise, that govern their delivery, we are working within a set of confinements that mediate the possibilities. One of the most obvious limitations comes in the necessity for chronopolitcal determinism in scope. The decision to confine content to works created post 1948 is not meant to neglect the pantheon of works and struggle leading up to this moment in history, but for the moments’ sheer confrontation of the realpolitik that would shape the Palestinian narrative or narratives rather. That austere reality becomes a prevalent inclusionary qualification.
And the show must go on.
This space does not feign or claim objectivity. In fact, it questions the existence of such an idea. What it does do is aspire to offer room for the formulation of a multiplicity of subjectivities to exist, collectively or in fragments. Indeed, this is a Mobius strip of theory and practice. Each seeks to inform the other, actively and inseparably in an unending circuit of self-reflection and the quest for a space that encourages thought, theory, consideration and discourse.
Confrontation of terminology shaping, surrounding and at once defining our curatorial process was equally constraining. The following conceptual encounters complicated our deliberatory undertaking:
We asked ourselves, what is Identity? Assertion? Expression? Authenticity? Resistance? Culture? Art? Production? Meaning? And a multitude of questions in between.
How does this all change in the context of Palestine? Does it hold its ground? Or does it all fall apart? Does it assert or push back?
To find answers to questions we looked to certain theorists, artists, poets, performers, writings, theories and stipulations. Though we knew the questions were unanswerable, they were worth the reflection anyway.
We were inspired by some, and deterred by others.
In the revolutionary songs of Fayrouz, the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish we found solace and poetic assertion of identity and expression. In Frantz Fannon’s rejection of compromise with the oppressor, we found answers to questions of resistance and situation of intent. In Foucault’s deconstruction of power and analysis of the pervasiveness of governmentality, we better understood the functionality and iterations of domination. Combined, they strengthen our understanding of intent or obstacle. They help articulate the materiality of the targets that the artistic expressions practice resistance against. There were more influences, and though there is the desire to proceed, brevity is necessary.
In recognizing the trope of challenges posed by inexpressibility of pain, torture and voicelessness, we looked to the work of Elaine Scarry:
“Because the person in pain is ordinarily so bereft of the resources of speech, it is not surprising that the language of pain should sometimes be brought into being by those who are not themselves in pain but who speak on behalf of those who are. Though there are great impediments to expressing another’s sentient distress, so are there also very great reasons why one might want to do so, and thus there come to be avenues by which this most radically private of experiences begins to enter the realm of public discourse.”
How does a work articulate something that isn’t fully translatable unless the receiver is a subject of torture as well? How is it accomplished when it occurs through different mechanisms and upon different bodies?
The trope of suffering, torture and voiceless is but one end of a large spectrum of experiences, materializations, revelations and disclosures. On the opposite side of the spectrum, for this collection, we looked to the incredible push-back the conditions of the Palestinian experience have created. The works, to extrapolate from Edward Said,
“live in comradely communication despite the barriers.”
At this end of the spectrum lies the “Palestinian Genius” which
“expresses itself in crossings-over, in clearing hurdles, activities that do not lessen the alienation, discontinuity, and dispossession, but that dramatize and clarify them instead”
(1985). The works on this end radiate positivity, resilience, strength, humor and adversity in the face of the circumstances they encounter.
A spectrum of works is just that, with one end of the spectrum inundated with torture, silence and obscurity and the opposing end celebratory in expression, promise and a fervent belief in the capacity to overcome. There is a plethora of experiences and articulations filling the vast space between these poles. They aren’t fixed, but rather moving and evolving in a way both divorced from and entrenched within perceptions of spatiotemporality. Just as positions waver and are reshaped through the passage of time, so must be the individual projection of the spectrum.
This endeavor has an A-Side and a B-Side.
The A-Side being the collection of works is meant to viewed at the users’ concession. It places before the user a curated display of artistic expressions, articulations and ideas that may or may not generate other ideas in the eyes and minds of the onlooker, the observer, the consumer - to the discretion of each.
The manifesto is our contribution to the B-Side: your insight into the inner workings of the thought process, the creative and theoretical motivation, the editorial decision making methodology, the workarounds, the constraints, the levels of resistance and allowances, the considerations, the deliberation and all other turning points where decisions are made, and others undone. This space right here.
So, to all you explorers, researchers, visitors, voyeurs, artists, students, opponents, proponents, activists, academics, ____ this may be of interest to you, and for that we are glad. Having said that, we desire for this to continue as an egalitarian space, if there ever could be one, that does not address a particular audience, rather (perhaps) offer a body of work for their appropriate use - experience - benefit - viewing pleasure - distortion - etc.
The perceived infinity of this digital scroll is intentional.
It seeks not to curate in any given order, in an attempt, no matter how futile, to not privilege a form over a differing medium, a work over the next or the previous, a creator over another. It seeks to just be.
We invite you to humor us…
Engage, think, view, consider, refresh, randomize, click, browse, comment, discuss, suggest, contemplate, problematize…
NOTES TO THE USER:
- The “Collection” section is currently, much to our dismay, organized according to the dates the works have been uploaded to the site. This in no way is the criteria for exploring the works. Rather, it is the explicit limitation of the platform we are currently using.
- A next phase of an Artistic Intifada would provide the opportunity for browsing the works according to the themes, creators, years of conception, ideas, media and perhaps other categories as well.
- At the current moment, the browsing function of the website according to the above stated themes can be done by clicking on tags that list the same or by searching the “Collection” section for specific names, themes, ideas, years and other criteria.