Callum Copley is a researcher and writer based in Amsterdam and the UK, examining how emerging technologies constitute new forms of political and cultural domination. His work uses fiction as a method to propose alternative futures with which to enact radical change in the present. He is also co-founder of ‘Schemas of Uncertainty’ an ongoing research initiative exploring the role of prediction in contemporary digitized society.
Mohamed is an artist and designer born in Gaza in 1983, working in art and crafts especially manuscripts and woodwork. and also running art workshops with the kids. Interested in producing art pieces of used materials and turn them into useful and meaningful pieces.
Designer Nadira Alaraj and the Kattan family silversmiths do incredible work in Bethlehem. The silver zaytouna jewelry features handcrafted olive leaves from sterling silver. Designers pick the olive leaves and cast them to create unique molds. Every single silver leaf is individually formed from a mold that is only used once, rendering unique, one-of-a-kind leaves.
Report of one day during the create-shop 2013: RUMBLING MACHINES
Rumbling machines, steady hands, and hospitality would summarize todays Wonderland. After half an hour drive we arrived in Hebron were we would spend most of our day. When entering the city a warning sign welcomed us ‘No entry for Israelis, entry illegal by israeli law’, as if it was Area 51. In Hebron, the biggest city in Palestine considering the 170.000 inhabitants of H1 and H2, our first stop would be the ceramic and glass workshop. After a quick tour we wandered around the place, admiring the craftsmen that were blowing glass and gracefully decorating pottery. The ease with which they made their glass products was fascinating to see. With the options in mind some of us started painting or collecting ideas for possible products. Several tourists and interested people entered the workshop on and off and were shown around, for a while making it look like an artisan showroom. Our next stop was The Hirbawi Keffiyeh Factory “Raise your keffiyeh, Raise it” as Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf sings in “Ali Keffiyeh”. The rumbling sounds of weaving machines slowly came towards us when entering the factory. In the entrance hall a big bedouin tent was implemented as a business meeting point. Two man were keeping a close eye on the keffiyeh during the manufacturing process, removing the threads that were superfluous. The factory, operational since 1961, annually produced 150.000 scarfs until the early 1990s. “Today, due to the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords and the opening of trade with the outside world, only four machines remain in operation producing a mere 10,000 scarves a year. Not one of these scarves are exported, as overseas suppliers produce mass quantities at a fraction of the price, and the shrinking Palestinian economy and Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks create further hindrances to production and trade for small businesses like Mr. Hirbawi’s. In Mr. Hirbawi’s own words: My machines are in good shape. They can start working tomorrow. I just need a market.”
In the office factory several keffiyehs were bought either for personal use or for artistic purposes. After we filled our bags with the Palestinian symbol of all symbols, Maher Shaheen — one of the participants — invited us to his house for a tea and a sweet arabic coffee. It was a perfect closure of the day being invited into the intimacy of a palestinian family.
Mirte van Duppen is a Dutch designer, researcher and visual artist. She studied Graphic Design at ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Arnhem (BA Design) and graduated from the Design Department, alias Think Tank for Visual Strategies, of the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam (MA Design).
In her work she analyses the function, interrelations and transformative powers of urban landscapes and the human interaction with these landscapes. With her intuitive and at the same time really precise way of documenting she shows, reveals and evokes something from the viewer. Through direct interaction with these landscapes, and their underlying (un)-written rules, functions, history, and their users, she explores the terrain between fieldwork and storytelling.
Our second day in Palestine, started on the first day of October. The night before, the white rabbit had lead us save and in time through its hole and nobody of us could really believe that we have had no problems with the Queen of Hearts and her guards; that we were finally here, in miraculous Ramallah.
The evening lead us into the workshop of the rabbits old friend, the crazy cobbler whose favourite time of the day had just begun, the night. Our party member Majnuna, skilled in all kinds of crafts and arts, found herself in Wonderland, tried all his machines and agreed on becoming the cobblers apprentice.
But no night shall pass without the celebration of our non-birthday, and so our glasses were filled with a white liquid called Arak, which is not Raki, nor it is Ouzo —no matter what the bottle says. The glasses where wicked too and filled themselves each time we tried to empty them. The Rabbits and Cobblers old friend, the March Hare, joined our party and the night went on with talks about pleasures and inconveniences, the Queen of hearts and her guards, about the amazing creatures of Wonderland and their ability to make so much good out of so much nothing.
Finally we were brought to our hotel by the crazy cobbler on his flying carpet. Waking up after a short sleep which had given our livers too little time to digest the «don’t-call-it-Ouzo» we hurried on to our base for the next 10 days, where this very famous guy was born about 2000 years ago; who had a long beard, many followers and could turn water into wine. There, in the city of eternal Christmas, we were introduced to our new friends, inhabitants of Wonderland, skilled craftsmen and -women of whom we were going to learn so much.
Writing this in retrospect is a matter of great difficulties. Here in Wonderland things are different than they appear. Weeks, especially the last not yet two, can feel like months or years. The ones who seem defeated can be more free than their conquerors. To reach the place across the street, only some meters away, can be a journey of years.
We learned a lot, especially to open our eyes and listen and not to rely on the knowledge we brought with us in our baggage. We smoked the Argeelah with the local caterpillars which will certainly turn into butterflies some day. We made friends in Wonderland and once we are back home we will see things a little bit with their eyes and we will wonder and tell about Wonderland.
Mohammad Saleh is currently a Jerusalem based ecological space designer and green activist. He has a degree in Psychology, and another in Musicology. He has been engaged in the cultural and art sector of Palestine for several years, working at the Palestinian Art Court, followed by works in visual production related to Palestinian life. In recent years Mohammed has been leading an ecological and sustainable life and since 2015 he has been professionally designing sustainable and green spaces.
"Since the very first moment of us working together, I have been learning about my country in a totally different, positive and hopeful way. Living and working in Palestine is constantly being confronted with a harsh reality and a negative context. DDFP brings something positive out of a negative thing. The problems, the occupation and the constant present violent atmosphere are used as sources for inspiration. Now we can spread our stories using creative, productive and positive thinking.
The market is indeed flooded with products from China and Israel, and because easy consumerism is more appealing, most people don’t think that they can actually do what they want themselves. Our artisans are also caught up in this pattern of consumerism and tend to only produce what the market wants, over and over again.
To me the beauty of DDFP lies in the fact that in a very perceptive way they managed to harvest the resources that were already here in my country. They looked at the existing networks; they looked for people who already had their own ideas and for artisans with amazing abilities. This meant that they didn’t have to train people, neither to educate designers or to make design. They only needed to say that collaborating was important and that it was possible. They did make all of the participating local designers look totally different at these crafts studios. Before, when we past by an artisans’ shop, we perceived it as exotic and on rare occasions we would take a photo of it. But the idea never came to our mind to show any interest in what that man was doing. Let alone that we could imagine a possible collaboration.
There is indeed the potential for DDFP to become an important economical factor, but this is not the case yet. We will definitely need a couple of more years before we will be able to start investing in local productions from the profits that we can make from the sales. For the moment this is our Achilles heel. We often lack the funds to pay for new productions, so we need to look for investment money in different ways, which can be quite challenging.
Our identity is not defined in a positive way. We are getting constantly accused and we are seen as a bad nation. By joining DDFP, I found a unique opportunity to tell my own story and to make an object that performs that story. So when people are buying it, they indicate that they believe in your story. This empowers the feeling that I, that we can. That it is possible."(From Kurt Vanbelleghem interview, Can one really benefit from a social design project, or is it just another spin at the wheel?)