Ashhab: Irony is also a good way to trigger people’s attentionTeresa Palieri
Could you introduce yourself and your background?
I am Areej and I am now 20 years old. I am an architecture student at the Bezalel Academy for art and design and I am now in my second year.
How did you got in contact with Disarming Desgin from Palestine?
I am very interested in the art field and in designing and I saw on facebook DDFP create shop open call. I was looking for something related to art and design to participate in a platform that would allow me to give something back to the society by using my skills and in my field of interest.
You said before that you were looking for an experience in the field of art and design and related to society, is for this social aspect of disarming design that you decided to participate?
I was looking for a place were to work together with other people on relevant topics for me and for the society around me. I felt like I was studying design and architecture but not connecting with my surroundings and with people in my same field. Cooperation is not something very common in the university. DDFP opened my eyes to a lot of people that exist around me and that I did not know about, people which I can collaborate with.
Did you find something you were not expecting once the workshop started?
I really enjoyed the group working and I learned design in terms of narration. I’ve learned to design through te glasses of the story I want to tell.
In the workshop you worked in close collaboration with international artists and desginers, was this relevant for you?
I am always interested in discovering different cultures and during the workshop I took the opportunity. It happened organically. Mixing together my ideas with the one of Florian and Monika, who have really different backgrounds from mine, was interesting and challenging. When we designed the ‘Checkpoint bag’, everybody had different ideas about how the bag shoud be. But this difference in opinion wasn’t something that distanced us.
The product that you developed together with Florian and Monika explains the system of the checkpoint and the influence that this has in the daily un life of Palestinians, how did you specifically decided to work on this?
Actually it was something that I thought about even before coming to the workshop, I thought of a bag custom made for people that have to pass the checkpoint daily. Through the way it functioned the bag would have told the story of the checkpoint, how it is like to pass trough the Israeli barriers. I wondered about it, but it is just during the workshop that I got more confident about my idea. When in a group meeting I realized that other people were working in the same direction, I understood that the idea could be developed into an actual projet, the ‘Checkpoint Bag’. We were really excited and we started working together.
The way you treat the narration of the checkpoint through the bag you developed is enriched with an ironic element, why?
For us it was a way to make the story more clear, interesting and intriguing. We wanted to tell it also to people that never passed through a checkpoint. The bag unveils how chaotic it can be to pass a checkpoint. In a normal daily surrounding it may seems quite complicated, while it becomes very funcional at the checkpoint. Irony is also a good way to trigger people’s attention.
In the development of the Checkpoint bag prototype you really worked in close collaboration with local craftsmen, do you normally use local craftmenship and local knowledge and skills in your work as an architect and artist?
This was something totally new for me, and it’s something that I really loved about my experience of Disarming Design. Talking to local craftsmen and trying to convince them to go out of their work routine to help me was very interesting. I really felt like getting into business! At the beginning it was hard, but then I started to learn how to talk and deal with craftsmen and how to involve them in my project. I really think that this was the best part of Disarming Design; working with local artisans and materials. On the other hand it was also hard to realize how much knowledge there is around me in Palestine and that I did not know about.
Do you see yourself working again with local craftsman in your practice?
Yes of course. All the contacts that I got during the workshop are resources that I will use in my future, not just for Disarming Design but also for my personal practice.
You made a film at the checkpoint about the bag. Was this the first time you recorded something at a checkpoint?
I knew it was possible because I had a friend that had filmed at several checkpoints for an architecutral project. But we were very nervous doing it, although other people were very interested in what we were doing and they were all helping us. We had to do it many times and it was challenging, but fun.
Actually I think that Palestinians are always afraid of doing things they think they are forbidden to do. They think they are forbidden of most of the things, as a state of mind, then it comes out that actually nobody cares. This is something that we as Palestinians must change in our mindset. You can’t live being always scared and nervous. We have to start to make things, being confident about ourselves, our projects and desires.