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.
David Juan Ortiz is Spanish designer who studied at the in the Think Tank for Visual Strategies masters program of the Sandberg Institute. He works with video and publications. Currently, he is living and working between Amsterdam and Beirut.
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?)
Majd Abdel Hamid is a Palestinian visual artist based in Ramallah. He hopes Disarming Design’s collaborations will give Palestinian visual heritage a tool to reflect its deeper current realities. ‘It’s something we don’t have within the Palestinian community, design as a discourse. People mainly develop things on their own here. We’re kind of in a static limbo, we’re stuck with symbols, we’re stuck with the Palestinian map, we’re stuck with Handala… This is an opportunity to actually recreate something and have our own form of deconstructionism, not for the sake of deconstruction itself, but rather to rethink our national symbols and our visual narrative." Majd was the coordinator of Disarming Design in 2012 and 2013.
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.
Rudy J. Luijters is a Dutch artist and beekeeper living and working in Brussels and Gouvy, Belgium. His work consistently attests to a strongly analytical (phenomenological) and conceptual approach. Research into cultural signs in the broadest sense of the word is an essential part of his work and also its goal at times.
Sherida Kuffour is a Graphic Designer and Illustrator from The Netherlands, where she currently studies an MA in Design at the Sandberg Instituut. As a multi-disciplinary designer, with experience in publishing, navigational design and branding, strategic approaches to projects and brand developments ensure a thorough and critical work process.