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.
Moniek Driesse is a research based designer in arts and architecture. She considers art and design as powerful tools to catalyze dialogue on political, social and cultural issues. From her interest in working at the boundaries of disciplines, she works in diverse projects, increasingly focused on artistic practice and architecture in contexts of conflict, and the development of tools for dialogue and activism. Within those (self initiated) projects she utilizes design, curating, publishing and education, to create a cohesive practice that connects arts, politics, (social) science and daily reality. Therefore she collaborates with fellow professionals, foundations, cultural institutions, universities, and, most of all, the potential users. Their stories, questions, wishes and needs are the main source of inspiration; the reality to act upon.
"As a designer, social and political subjects are my main interest. In my design process, I look at current situations and I speculate how that situation could have been different. It is not so much a working method as an attitude and a critical perspective. In every subject I search for a way to confront the public with a dilemma. In this confrontation I hope to challenge the public to think in a different way about the subject. I want them to question whether or not the scenario is real and serious or fictitious and ironic. A speculative attitude helps me in constructing a narrative about this possible present or future situation." (From ARNHEMSE NIEUWE 20x20 talk 2015)
Vivien Sansour is a life style writer, producer, and photographer. She has been capturing the stories of Palestinian farmers for the wider world. Trained in the field of Anthropology Vivien worked with farmers in Honduras, Uruguay, and Palestine on issues relating to agriculture and independence. In the last three years while living with Producer communities in the Northern West Bank villages she created a series of producer and village profiles published in her book, “Insisting on Life: A Community at Work” which was developed for Canaan Fair Trade. In these 36 profiles of people and communities she wrote about agricultural practices and how they relate to cultural traditions providing an ethnographic overview of rural life in Palestine. She has produced several short films and one feature film, “The People and the Olive” which received high acclaim from critics including the Boston Globe’s Loren King who called the film, “An inspirational thriller.” The People and The Olive was the official selection for several film festivals including, Chicago International Social Change film festival and the Unspoken Human Rights film festival.
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?)
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.