Questo non è un progetto fra tanti. E questa non è una mia fotografia.
Però qualcosa di mio c’è, in questo pollice alzato verso il cielo della casa più bella che c’è. Ciao G!
|Una fotografia, ridotta ai minimi termini, è una scelta. O meglio, è il risultato di una serie di scelte di natura diversa, combinate fra loro.
Una fotografia non propone l’immagine di una cosa particolare, ma piuttosto di una relazione fra cose.
|A photograph, in its fundamental terms, is a choice. Or, better, it is the result of a number of choices, different in their nature but combined together.
A photograph never captures the image of a single thing but, rather, of a relation among things.
Uno spazio dove si incrociano frontiere immaginarie (la linea verde), barriere minacciose (il muro di separazione), demarcazioni unilaterali (la municipalità israeliana della grande Gerusalemme), confini calpestati (la parte occidentale del comune palestinese di Beit Jala), villaggi dimenticati (Al Walajeh), colonie israliane (Har Gilo) e limiti antichi (la proprietà della congregazione salesiana). Uno spazio talmente complicato da sembrare inverosimile. Eppure, esiste. E’ qui che si trova la cantina di Cremisan. E’ qui che si produce il vino di Palestina.
Nel 2009 il responsabile della cantina, don Franco Ronzani, mi chiese di preparare un archivio fotografico con immagini di vigna e di cantina, ma anche foto storiche recuperate dagli archivi di Cremisan e di Beit Gemal. Eccone alcune.
A dicembre il VIS, che sostiene da tempo le attività della cantina salesiana, ha stappato bottiglie di Cremisan alla manifestazione La Terra Trema che, ogni anno, raduna al Leoncavallo di Milano decine di vignaioli indipendenti. In questa occasione abbiamo allestito una serie di pannelli fotografici per raccontare dove nasce il vino di Palestina. Un grazie particolare ad Andrea Bonini, uno che a Cremisan vede l’alba ogni mattina, ma non resta a guardarla.
Un paio di articoli usciti sui giornali si trovano qui.
Un muro non basta è una scritta colorata sul muro di Betlemme che ancora resiste alla sfida del tempo. Nel 2005 quella scritta ha ispirato una campagna di informazione sul conflitto israelo-palestinese, prodotta dall’organizzazione non governativa VIS, che negli anni successivi ha toccato 41 città in tutta Italia.
Nel 2010 quella scritta è diventata il titolo di un libro fotografico che raccoglie 105 fotografie realizzate nel corso di sei anni lungo il tracciato del muro, attraverso i Territori palestinesi occupati. Pubblicato da Edizioni della Meridiana, Firenze, il volume è promosso dall’associazione Habibti Betlemme di Montevarchi che sostiene progetti di solidarietà in Palestina. Nella versione cartacea, il libro può essere richiesto all’indirizzo email@example.com, mentre in quella elettronica si può sfogliare qui, suddiviso in due parti.
per decidere chi ha ragione e chi ha torto
per tracciare un confine arbitrario
per dettare la legge del più forte
un muro non basta.
2013: Capannori (LU)
2011: Firenze – Estate in Fortezza, Civita Castellana (VT)
2010: Pistoia, Montevarchi (AR)
2009: Chioggia, Venezia, Salerno
2008: Roma, Prato, Bari, Siena, Varazze, Giovinazzo, Genova, Nichelino (II), Anghiari
2007: Torino, Cuneo, Pinerolo, Nichelino (I), Bologna, Lecce, Corsano-Martano, Trento, Udine
2006: Massa, Jesolo, San Miniato, Pavia, Palermo, Ponte di Legno, San Donà di Piave, Vicenza, Savignano sul Panaro, Ferrara, Faenza, Fossano
Mehwar Center, located in the outskirts of Beit Sahour, is a shelter for women in need of a way out from domestic violence. In early 2009 I was assigned by UNIFEM the task of documenting life in the Center, the first of its kind in Palestine. The visual challenge was made tougher by the security requirement to avoid showing the faces of sheltered women, some 15 young ladies from all over the West Bank. For once, a security requirement which made sense, calling for creative respect of privacy.
Mehwar Center is built in the shape of a rectangular ring, with an external section protecting the residential area and the inner court. Women find more than a safe place to stay, that is the opportunity to figure out, little by little, how to re-engage with their lives by establishing trustful relations with people, getting involved in social work for the local community, getting advice from legal counselors, learning new skills and putting together scattered pieces of self-confidence… in a long, delicate process of human rehabilitation.
First screened at Dar Annadwa, Bethlehem, on Women’s Day 2009, the slideshow includes 80 photos and here it is presented in three parts. I wish to thank Federico Busonero for participating in this project with six of his images. Each is credited as it appears.
Who is Rachel?
A woman. A wife. A mother.
Her story is told in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. She married Jacob, Abraham’s nephew, and she gave him two sons. On the way to the south of Palestine, she died while giving birth to the second one, Benjamin. Her husband, according to the Bible, buried her right there, on the way. There… where? Was it really on the outskirts of Bethlehem? Most probably not, as the research of a Franciscan scholar, Guido Lombardi, pointed out in 1971. Nevertheless, the burial site that was associated with her, along the road to Hebron, is what has attracted the prayers of countless believers through the ages.
When the West Bank was occupied by the Israeli army in June 1967, Rachel’s Tomb was not included within the unilateral borders of Great Jerusalem because of its location, deep inside a Palestinian urban area. Some 30 years later, in the framework of the separation regime introduced by the Oslo accords, Israeli authorities reconsidered the matter and decided to secure a direct connection between the site and Jerusalem. In 1998 Rachel’s Tomb was fortified with external walls, concrete blocks and watchtowers which dramatically altered its appearance. A few years later, after the outbreak of the second Intifada, the construction of the Separation Wall began, and the area was completely isolated from the city. Where Israeli and Palestinians used to find opportunities for economic and social relations, now they remained divided. So they remain today.
The two sides of the site look like two different planets: here the city seems to be a ghost town, with abandoned shops and broken windows; there the enclave looks like a fortress, with tired soldiers and melancholic prayers. While the elderly people of Bethlehem still remember the past, the young don’t have any past to remember, as separation is their only experience of life. Rachel’s Tomb – a shrine? a landmark? an emblem of coexistence among faiths? – is no more on the way to Bethlehem. It is out of the way. Has she become an alien in her hometown?
Moving from this question, I embarked on a social research project together with three friends and colleagues at Bethlehem University: Ingeborg Tiemann, Lucia Maria Russo and Elise Aghazarian. With the help of a small group of students, we interviewed some people living in the area of Rachel’s Tomb, so as to collect their memories and feelings about a site which used to be part of their lives, before disappearing behind the concrete slabs of the Wall. The outcome of our research was a paper and a set of photographs. Then, words and images reached Berlin to find their place in a book: it can be ordered from the publisher’s website, AphorismA, and it includes a DVD with the following slideshow.
In May 2010 I was invited to present our research at St. Joseph University, Beirut. It was my first chance to visit Lebanon. I had only seen its land once, from the northern Israeli city of Metulla. Faraway, so close. But this is another story.
A young man takes time for a cigarette on the base of the wall in Qalandiya, between Ramallah and Jerusalem. He looks around at the chaos of the morning traffic, cars and trucks cramming a road which used to connect, which now marks a divide. He is not alone, though he seems to be. Perhaps, in a way he is.
Most likely, his name is not Murad. His story, nevertheless, might be not so different from that of the main character of the novel by Palestinian writer Suad Amiry, Murad Murad. In 2009 this photo was chosen by the Italian publisher “Feltrinelli” for the cover of the Italian edition of the book.
The same photo was used for the English and Arabic editions of the novel, published by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation. In the English edition the title was changed into “Nothing to lose but your life”.
In 2011 this image was chosen again by Arvids Publisher for the Danish edition of the novel.
What if boundaries could establish links among people, rather than pulling them apart?
Inside Out looks into this paradox. Whoever we are, wherever we are, we confront ourselves with the human experience of limits. Limits are very different in their nature, indeed, but still they participate in a shared background of the human condition.
My open hands touch invisible walls. They challenge the barriers affecting my life.
Here, you seem to break through the glass with powerful confidence. There, he looks at the ground in search of a track. Another one digs into memories which won’t fade away. She screams, she stares. He doesn’t know what’s coming up next. But hopes.
Our backgrounds are different, and so are experiences. Perceptions may vary as problems may change, across places and moments in life. But facing high barriers, whatever their nature, is not open to choice. Touching the wall prompts tangible contacts with intangible limits.
Here, in the occupied Palestinian territory, barriers are plenty. They look very solid, made as they are of metal and concrete. But physical obstacles to physical movements are few of the roadblocks we face in our walks.
Barriers take innumerable forms. Young men and women meet with all kinds: some stand up right ahead, some grow inside, some are built all around. Some, sometimes, are dismantled and fall into rubble.
Barriers may last a day in a checkpoint, a month in a bed, a year in a cell, a minute in a phone call, an entire life in a tidy office, a refugee camp or a silent room. Certain barriers divide for a while, others unite forever. Barriers are borders, fears, doubts, pressures, ambitions, languages, prejudices, powers, expectations, worries, traditions, permits, limits, memories. It happens, at times, that some can be overcome. But not avoided, even there where barriers seem not to belong: imagination.
Inside Out aims at capturing the ways I relate to my barriers, at this very point in my space and my time. Ask me not what exactly is my barrier. What matters is nothing but my inner awareness. It’s me and my wall, clear to the eyes of my conscience alone. I can call it by name, I can leave my fingerprints on its surface, I can see what’s beyond, at times. But if I’m ever to move from this spot, I must deal with my wall. Perhaps it’s the same as yours, perhaps it’s mine alone.
Here, in the midst of the most fragmented land, whatever the case, I know we’re all with our hands stretched out in search of our crack in the wall.
Supported by Bethlehem University, DAAD, AGEH and VIS, between 2008 and 2009 Inside Out was exhibited in Bethlehem, Koeln and Rome. I wish to extend my special thanks to Inge Tiemann for having turned an idea into an international project, pushing our limits a little further.