Ibrahim is a Palestinian architect based in Jerusalem.
"Each of the designs developed in the create shops are representing the situation of the people in the West Bank, Gaza or Jerusalem. They deal with the wall, the checkpoints, the violence, the closed borders and so on and at the same time they express our pride to be from Palestine. Through DDFP, we are encouraged to do more to show to the world the current atrocious situation.
It may be true that the revenue side is still under construction, but I find it more important that we create a symbolic economy. When people from all over the world are buying and using our objects, we enable them to make a comment on our case and we allow them to join the resistance. Money well invested, if you ask me.
By participating in DDFP I really challenged myself and I improved my thinking. I expanded my field of expertise and I created things that I never thought possible. To me, it was especially an imaginative development."(From Kurt Vanbelleghem interview, Can one really benefit from a social design project, or is it just another spin at the wheel?)
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.
Areej is an artist and designer based in Jerusalem, currently studying at Bezel Academy of Art and Design.
"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."
When a European design student wants to experience authentic night out in Ramallah or in Bethlehem, there are two basic options: one can ask a local to recommend a Palestinian restaurant, order hummus, falafels, shawarma, turkish salad and other local dishes and drink freshly squeezed juice or local Taybeh beer. Or, one can go to one of the restaurants serving non-Palestinian food, drink a Carlsberg or a Coke while a mix of local and western pop-music is playing in the background.
While the former option might offer an opportunity to taste the traditional cuisine, it doesn’t mean that the latter would be anyhow less genuine or ‘real’. Nor that one or the other would authentic for all for the same reasons. Or that authenticity would be anyhow objective. So, to be able to conscious about what’s behind this decision, I believe it’s important —at least for me— to examine and open up the notion of authenticity a little bit. On Saturday morning, while one part of the group went to Northern parts of Palestine to see the Qalandiya zoo, I decided to spend the morning walking in the old part of Bethlehem. I came across this arabic market not far from the main square; just a narrow alley and stairs left from the main/oldest street of the city. Narrow alleys with tarps hanging above to provide a bit of shade were crowded already in the morning. Fruit and vegetable stalls, spices, first- and second hand clothing, household stuff, electronics and plastic, basically everything is sold here. Already from far away you could see that most of the things were made in China. The fruits and vegetables however, without labels, rather ripe and unperfect, were certainly cultivated not too far away from here.
If one thinks authenticity as something geographical, something related to soil and the place, the fruits and vegetables in this market had a stronger aura of authenticity than the almost universal made-in-China stuff (it’s more authentic to eat hummus in the middle east than it is in Europe). But at the same time it’s at least as authentic to see Chinese products in the Middle East as it is in Europe.
Later in Ramallah, when the European design student decides to go for a drink to a clean and trendy Mexican restaurant or to hyped Octoberfest in newly opened five star Mövenpick Hotel (or both!), the authenticity is rather cultural. And cultures change. It’s an experience about a moment, people and the global cultural environment. And floating in the Dead sea in lotus position the day after, the experience is again all about the exceptional environment: full-body mud masks and the sea and western pop-music and Nestle ice cream.