DISARMING COMMUNITY

www.nieuwdakota.com

Nieuw Dakota is a platform for contemporary art on the IJ in Amsterdam North. The gallery organises exhibitions and projects in collaboration with collectors, galleries, institutions and other players in the international art world. Nieuw Dakota seeks a wider audience involved in the art world, with the aim to increase private participation in contemporary art.

With its changing presentations of local and international artists in collaboration with galleries, curators and other organisations, Nieuw Dakota intends to support and promote the market for contemporary art in the Netherlands. The education program and special activities for its Pioneer Club play an important role. Another aspect of Nieuw Dakota’s projects is the presentation of private collections. Nieuw Dakota showcases the collections of passionate art lovers, aiming to inspire others to begin their own. Nieuw Dakota is situated at the NDSM wharf. Reach us using the free ferry to NDSM from Amsterdam Central Station. Free entrance.

www.eyeonpalestine.be

Eye on Palestine is a festival that promotes quality and stimulating Palestine-related film and arts in Belgium.

Born in 2010 the festival has grown from an exclusively film based program to one that also includes visual and live arts, theater and music performances along with lecture and debates.

Eye on Palestine offers a platform for artist to express their views on the Palestinian reality.
At the same time the festival wants to inject the belgian cultural world with critical and important work that is rarely seen in commercial circuits. The festival takes Palestine to Belgium by bringing the audience together with young and established Palestinian and international directors, artist, writers, musicians, scholars and activists.

Eye on Palestine is a non-profit social and cultural project realised by a wide range of Belgian organizations and institutions and many volunteers.

www.wiels.org

As one of the leading institutions for contemporary art in Europe, without a permanent collection, WIELS presents temporary exhibitions by national and international artists, both emerging and more established. WIELS is a site of creation and dialogue, in which art and architecture form the bases for a discussion about current events and issues, not only through the exhibition programme, but also through a host of complementary activities.

WIELS opened its doors in 2007, in a restored former brewery from the 1930s – designed by Belgian architect Adrien Blomme – and the idea of

sandberg.nl

The Sandberg Instituut is the postgraduate department of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie Amsterdam. It offers Master’s programmes in Fine Arts, Interior Architecture, Applied Art and Design. We keep our departments relatively small, with an average of 20 students per programme. This allows us to make the courses flexible and open to initiatives from students and third parties. The course directors are prominent artists, designers and curators with international practices. They invite (guest) tutors who are able to challenge the students to critically reflect on their profession, their work and their progress.

www.eltiqa.com

Our group eltiqa was founded in winter 2002, when our thoughts converged towards the idea of "Art for Art’s Sake". Progressing in this direction we focus on modern and contemporary art. Our goal consists in emitting a distinctive shade, in order to create a Palestinian modern and contemporary Art movement. Through thevsdh diversity of our ideas and techniques, our perception of art is multicultural.
We, as Palestinian artists, with limited resources, succeeded in forming a body in order to help each other and develop this idea by our own means, despite our extremely difficult living conditions. We decided not to let such conditions discourage us from the achievement of our ambitions. Our attachment to this idea is very sharp. Through our artistic activities we lead our society to love culture. Our commitment: to continue the struggle against these very harsh conditions and obstacles, by using the nicest colors and the simplest language.

www.ramallah.ps

Ramallah is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank located 10 km (6 miles) north of Jerusalem at an average elevation of 880 meters above sea level, adjacent to al-Bireh. It currently serves as the de facto administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). Ramallah was historically an Arab Christian town. Today Muslims form the majority of the population of nearly 27,092 in 2007, with Christians making up a significant minority.

Ramallah municipality provides its services and cultural and social programs to the society through its main facilities that include the municipality building, public services centers, cultural and entertainment facilities, and libraries which aim at improving the level of services provided to the public on the one side, and the level of cultural and social awareness and supporting initiatives, activities and creative people on the other. This system constitutes a method serving the municipality in cultural, social and services areas, as well as in creating an environment capable of absorbing the programs and activities of the city through communication with the different categories of the society and providing them with its services.

www.bethlehemfairtrade.org

Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans (BFTA) is a non-profit NGO established in 2009. It works to spread the fair trade message in Palestine and links Palestinian producers to global fair trade markets. In 2015, BFTA became the first guaranteed member of World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) in the Middle East. WFTO is the largest global network advocating Fair Trade principles.

www.alhoashgallery.org

The Palestinian Art Court – Al Hoash is a Palestinian non-profit art organization based in Jerusalem, established in 2004. Al Hoash provides a knowledge-based platform for both emerging and established artists in Palestine to express, explore, realize and strengthen their national and cultural identity through visual practice. Al Hoash programs and its’ gallery provide a space for artists to showcase innovative and significant works. It promotes the interaction between the artists and the audience, encouraging them to acquire understanding and appreciation of artistic production.
Al Hoash has been exploring new approaches by introducing the concept of creative place making,
an initiative that makes art more accessible to the masses, where participants use creative processes to interact in public spaces. Moreover it helps communities rediscover and strengthen their relationship with their surroundings.

www.almamalfoundation.org

Al Ma'mal is a non-profit organization founded to promote, instigate, disseminate and create art. Founded in 1997, Al Ma'mal serves as an advocate for contemporary art and a catalyst for the realization of art projects in Jerusalem, inviting artists to the city to develop, produce and present their work to the public. Through our main programs, Artist-in-Residency, Public Outreach Program, Education Program, The Jerusalem Show, and the Contemporary Art Museum - Palestine (CAMP), we provide a medium and a channel through which we try to contribute towards the activation of cultural dynamics within society, giving art more possibilities to become a mode of expression and a way of life. Al Ma'mal is determined to make Jerusalem a centre for contemporary art in spite of the situation on the ground and in honor of Jerusalem's own enduring qualities as a complex, culturally rich, ageless city.

www.artacademy.ps

Contemporary art is an important field of creativity that contributes to local society and global culture, in which it is essential for Palestinians to represent themselves. It is a vehicle of expression where individuals critically engage with a wide range of issues in many different forms. At IAAP our aim is to provide our students with the opportunity to gain a solid foundation in the mediums and methods of working in the visual arts through our curriculum. At the Academy you can find local and international artists and thinkers engaging our students with contemporary debates and diverse methods of artistic practice. Owing to the histories of occupation in Palestine, the visual arts have had a difficult path of development, particularly in the absence of art schools, academies and funding. Due to these factors there is general a lack of understanding of the important role that art can play in Palestinian society. Art is a powerful intervention tool that raises awareness, and develops new knowledge on social and cultural issues. It creates an arena for thought via the visualization of ideas. Like any other field, art needs constant development, empowerment and mobilization in order to benefit society. Cultural expression is an important tool in articulating identity and the Academy aims to mobilize this potential in the direction of genuine creative and social development, particularly as the rich potential for the development of art in Palestine remains currently untapped.

www.atfaluna.net

Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children, a registered Palestinian NGO located in Gaza city, has been working in the field of deaf education and allied services since 1992. Literally thousands of deaf children and adults and their families are served annually at Atfaluna through deaf education, audiology, speech therapy, income generating programs for the deaf, vocational training, parents', teachers’ and community training and awareness programs, and a host of other services and programs.

www.arab-blind.org

Arab blind association in Jerusalem is non-profit organization enjoy a membership in the union charitable societies\ Jerusalem it was established in the year 1932 in east Jerusalem. during the British mandate over Palestine by and educational group of blind, and it’s a The workshops where our labor forces come to work daily to make brooms and brushes of all kind. The adopted families project which is carried out with the financial support of the Qatar charity.

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.

www.mohammedmusallam.com

Mohammed Musallam was born in Gaza in 1974 after his family had been dislocated from the historic Palestine as a consequent of the 1948 war.
He holds a PhD in philosophy of Fine Arts, Painting Department, Fine Arts College, Minia University, Egypt. He currently resides in Gaza and works there as a lecturer of “Painting and the History of Palestinian Arts” at the College of Arts, Al Aqsa University.

From his first steps as a university student he became greatly influenced by the abstract art processes and approaches.
In his Art, he focuses on portraying a range of humanistic issues, which go beyond the limitations imposed by any prevailing time-related matters, which may be oppressive and persistent simultaneously. At the same time, he concentrates on conveying the notion of the preservation of our humaneness amid the harshness of our environment as one of the most important reasons for our existence.

eltiqa.com
emergeast.com

Born in Al Bureij refugee camp, Gaza, 1975. After studying Computer Science in the Islamic University in Gaza, Raed turned to the fine arts, taking courses in mural painting, drawing and oil painting. He has had two solo exhibitions in Ramallah and has contributed to several group exhibitions in Palestine, Jordan, Switzerland and Australia, including the traveling exhibition in France of 10 young Palestinian artists (2003-04). In 2002 he won a Distinction Award in the A M Qattan Foundation Young Artists Award. He was invited to the 2003 Braziers International Artists Workshop in the UK. Lives in Al Bureij and works in Gaza City.

www.shoppalestine.org
pottery-makingindustry.blogspot.be
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Fakhoury Pottery and Karakashian Pottery in Hebron and Jerusalem respectively supply our beautiful handpainted Palestinian ceramics. The Fakhoury’s come from a long line of potters and, in fact, the name Fakhoury even means “potter” in Arabic. Their shop is located in the old city of Hebron where Israeli soldiers and settlers routinely physically and verbally harass Palestinians. Despite the difficulties, the family is determined to keep their store open and their craft alive. The Karakashian studio in Jerusalem continues the family tradition that began in 1922 when Megerditch Karakashian came to Jerusalem to help renovate the Dome of the Rock. All the motifs are traditional designs - birds, peacocks, gazelles, fish and various floral patterns. Each piece is hand painted with a hand made brush.

www.ayyamgallery.com
berlinbiennale.de

With photographs, videos, installations, films, and performative interventions focused on his native Palestine, multidisciplinary artist Khaled Jarrar explores the sociocultural impact of modern-day power struggles on ordinary citizens. The everyday subjects of Jarrar’s reflective work are contextualised in ways that draw attention to the severity of the issues he examines, giving the political content of his art greater significance while underscoring the autobiographical nature of his chosen themes.

Born in Jenin in 1976, Khaled Jarrar lives and works in Ramallah, Palestine. Jarrar completed his education in Interior Design at the Palestine Polytechnic University in 1996 and later graduated from the International Academy of Art Palestine with a Bachelor in Visual Arts degree in 2011. The following year, his documentary The Infiltrators (2012) won several accolades at the 9th Annual Dubai International Film Festival, and confirmed his importance in global cinema.

abusalmohamed.com

Mohamed Abusal (b. 1976, Gaza) artistic projects are daring, critical and scathing comments on what is deemed permissible in terms of technology and civilization in Gaza today. His “Metro in Gaza” (2012) proposes a network of seven metro lines to connect the different areas of Gaza Strip. He made an illuminated metro sign and set off to fix and photograph this sign wherever he imagines the metro stations should be. His “Shambar” (2013) is on the alternative and creative light solutions created or lived by people in Gaza as a result of the continuous disconnection of electricity. Shown at Al-Mamal Foundation in Jerusalem, and the French Institute in Gaza, Ramallah, and Nablus, the work exists in photographic and painting series. Abusal exhibited extensively around the world over the last decade, notably in France, where he has had several solo exhibitions, in addition to the US, UK, Australia, and Dubai. In 2005 he was awarded the Charles Aspry Prize for Contemporary Art. He is a founding member of “Eltiqa”, a an active group of contemporary artists that came together in 2002.

Mohammad Saleh is the executive director of Disarming Design from Palestine, a platform that empowers Palestinian designers and artisans and contributes to a more sustainable and independent Palestinian economy. He 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.

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.

Ghadeer is a Palestinian interior designer based in Jerusalem. In this moment she is part of the Disarming Design Team as Production Manager.

"On the market you see our heritage being used with a sort of ‘Copy-Paste’ attitude and this is why after some time, the products became outdated, repetitive and not responsive to the fast changing of contemporary societies we live in. The same goes also for the design of the products; stiking a piece of embroidery on an object is not enough to make it stand out as a Palestinian  item and the narration behind the product becomes weaker anad not be perceivable by other people. Today, with technology, everything changes so fast and so sudden, we need to be able to act upon what is happening around us. The beauty of the past needs to be reinvented according to the possibilities and necessities we have today, in a creative and well thought way."
(From the interview with Ghadeer Dajani December 2015)

 

The Toukan factory is one of the most famous and oldest factories in Nablus. It was built around 1910 on the outskirts of the old city, which is now its heart. The factory was established by the two brothers Hafiz and Abdul Fattah Toukan who belonged to the sixth generation after Ibrahim Aagha Al Shawrbaji, the grandfather of all the Tuqan family branches. In 1929, the soap factory became a limited liability company under the name “Hafez & Abdel Fattah Tuqan Ltd. Co.” and the Two Keys “Al Muftaheen” logo was registered as a trademark. In order to avoid the falsification of the Two Keys logo, the Board of Directors decided in 1940s to register other similar trademarks, such as Two Swords, Two Scissors, and Two Axes, and they are all still registered to the present day. When the West Bank became a part of Jordan in 1950, the Board registered at the Jordanian Ministry of Economy under the number 49; making it one of the leading companies in the region.

tharawat-magazine

Shaimaa Hassanein is an artist and designer from Gaza, graduate of the Faculty of Fine Arts in 2016, interested in drawing portraiture and Model, work with children and youth in art and murals painting workshops.

Majal is an artist based in Gaza. She gained her BA degree in Fine Arts from Al-Aqsa University. Since 2009, she has participated in several group exhibitions, such as the “Qurban” exhibition at the Women Media Information Center and “Canaanite” exhibitions at the French Cultural Center in Gaza. She has also participated in a number of auctions; the annual Jerusalem auction in 2009 and ‘Colors of Hope’ in 2010 and 2011. Her work has been exhibited in a number of collective international exhibitions: she presented “40 Days of My Life” in Germany, and has contributed to exhibitions in Jordan, Belgium and Italy. She has had two solo exhibitions, “Salt of Memory” in 2012 and “The Effect of Light and Glass” in 2014 in Gaza.

www.palart.ps

Sohail is a graphic designer and artist from Gaza. He is co-founder of Eltiqua Group for Contemporary Arts, where in 2014 he has been a supervisor in a program for contemporary arts.

www.ibrahimmuhtadi.com
Ibrahim Muhtadi is a Palestinian architect living in Gaza. Being an architect has given him the opportunity to both observe and practice the principles of art and design, and leading naturally to the pursuit of design work outside architecture. He has many interests in the home accessories design, Arabic calligraphy design, graphic design and jewelry design. Muhtadi inspired by the authenticity and the beauty of the Arabic Calligraphy. His talent and passion for creative expression has led him to shift his design skills from the sketches on the paper to the unique and original pieces of jewellery and arts.

Monika is a Latvian designer based is Amsterdam currently studying at the Think Tank for Visual Strategies master program of the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam.

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."

Hein van Duppen is a Dutch designer currently enrolled in the Studio for Immediate space master program at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. His work explores the intersections of design, architecture and urban planning.

www.heinvanduppen.nl

BirteVeenkamp is a Dutch designer based in Amsterdam, currently enrolled in the Think Tank for Visual Strategies master program of the Sandberg Institute.

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.

Tommi Vasko is a Finish designer based in Amsterdam. He studied at the Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam (Masters Rietveld Academie).

AUTHENTICITY

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.

tommivasko.nl

Tessel Brühl is a Dutch designer based in Amsterdam, where she attended the master in Think Tank for visual Strategies at the Sandberg Instituut (Master Rietveld Academie). She makes clothing, objects, performances and short films to change, disturb and highlight unconscious structures in society.

OLIVE TREE

I love trees; I love my olive trees; my trees; have feelings; when I stand; on the ground; with their roots; under my feet
we feel each other
our roots
hold strong
and silently
in the earth
no one
will move us
my trees
are one
three
and eight
years old
my trees
are like
my children
I couldn’t live
without them
I eat the olives
the oil
the seeds
become beads
the wood
heats my house
and
the leaves
spread this story

www.tesselbruhl.nl

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.

The Open Studio is a center  in Khan Younis where knowledge and know-how are exchanged. Khan Younis is a small town in Gaza with a large refugee camp that has existed for over 60 years and is still growing. It is an Islamic Arab culture that has been cut-off from the outside world; the largest prison on earth. If the political situation allows, artists from abroad visit the Open Studio to participate and teach.

GREAT REVOLUTION

As a half Palestinian half Czech designer, I always saw my point of view in design of taking the traditional Palestinian heritage and presenting it in a new “European” way. My aesthetic has always driven me to plunge into designs incorporating symbols typical of Palestine or calligraphy. When I was invited to take part on this project I had no idea what I was going to do, and I enjoyed brainstorming and hanging out with the various designers; seeing my native city Bethlehem through their eyes. My biggest realization was that as much as I looked through my European part upon my Palestinian heritage and surrounding I would never be able to see what they saw —despite the fact that I lived abroad for more than 10 years. This realization drove me to design what I call the “identity collection” or series, which start from a finger print telling the story of each Palestinian carrying a hawwyieh (Palestinian ID card) having to pass the checkpoint, to olive wood heel platform sandals decorated with the Palestinian kuffiyeh, and beautiful colorful happy mosaic and clay map of Palestine rings. All in referral to how this journey helped me realize that I will always see Palestine, and always refer to it in my work, through my Palestinian eyes, because that is who I am, that is my identity.

I am very grateful for all the people whom I met throughout this journey, many have been so helpful and patient with me and taught me new things, which helped my ideas and work come to life. Some of the artisans were a revelation to me, as I stumbled upon them like upon a treasure chest in a desert. I was so inspired by the many personalities and stories I have encountered in those short two weeks, and I loved every bit of it. The workshop has inspired me to do so much more and work with new materials, as well as taken me to far away cities in Palestine like Qalqilya and Tulkarem —which are hard for me to reach otherwise.

I hope this project will bring a lot of opportunities to the local artisans we worked with, as they work hard every day and are undervalued. I am stunned at their craftsmanship and modesty and hope that this is only the beginning of a great revolution on the local handmade goods market! 

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.

www.moniekdriesse.nl

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.

mirtevanduppen.nl

Martin Petrelli is an Italian designer and documentarian who has spent most of her life in flux, moving from one country to another. In her travels, she has developed a keen eye for collecting, recording and archiving. In collaboration with Donna Verheijden she filmed a documentary, The House of the Eyes, in the West Bank during the fist Palestinian Art biennale which also coincided with the latest attacks in Gaza.

www.martinapetrelli.com

Mark-Jan van Tellingen is an Amsterdam based Dutch designer, who studied at the Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam (Masters Rietveld Academie).

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. 

www.markjanvantellingen.nl

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.

Khaled Hourani is a Palestinian artist, curator, and art critic. He is the initiator of the project Picasso in Palestine. He attained a BA in History from Hebron University and was awarded the title of Cultural Management Trainer by Al Mawred Culture Resource and the European Cultural Foundation (Egypt). He has had several solo exhibitions locally and internationally and participates frequently in-group exhibitions. Hourani has curated and organized several exhibitions locally such as the young Artist of the Year Award for the years 2000 and 2002 for the A.M. Qattan Foundation. He was the curator of the Palestinian pavilion for Sao Paolo Biennale, Brazil and the 21st Alexandria Biennale, Egypt. He writes critically in the field of art and is an active member and founder of artistic and administrative boards in a number of cultural and art institutions. Hourani is was the Arts Director of the International Academy of Art Palestine and founded Disarming Design from Palestine with Annelys de Vet.

Jaroslav Toussaint is a German typo and graphic designer based in Amsterdam, who studied at the Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam (Masters Rietveld Academie).

MAJNŨNA IN WONDERLAND

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. 

Yasser Hirbawi opened the Hirbawi Textile Factory in 1961 in Hebron, operating 15 machines and producing 150,000 keffiyehs annually by 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." The Keffiyeh's black and white pattern has come to symbolize the Palestinian struggle; the middle pattern, with its "wire mesh fence" design represents the Israeli occupation, while the oblong-shaped patterns on the side represent olive leaves- a symbol of Palestine and peace.

The tradition of glassblowing continues today in three factories just north of the city, a short distance between the town of Halhul and Hebron. Two of the factories are owned by the Natsheh family. They produce primarily souvenirs, most of which are also used as household items. A large hall close to each of the factories displays wine glasses, dishes, bowls, flower pots, and other products. Although most objects are not decorated, some have artistically applied glass strings. Metallic decoration is a recent innovation of the industry.

Glass beads for jewellery have traditionally been made in Hebron. Blue beads and glass beads with 'eyes' (owayneh) were made and used as amulets since they were considered particularly effective against the evil-eye.

In the old city’s Al-Kazazin quarter (Kazazin meaning ‘people who make glass’), three families operated 14 glass factories. Today, there are only two of them left, run by the Natsheh family. The first Intifada, combined with the affluence of cheap goods from China and the rise in oil prices forced the majority of glass shop owners out of business. Both remaining factories have relocated to the entrance of the city, because tourists are sometimes fearful to go too deep into the old city.

Mr. Hamdi - who runs the Hebron Glass & Ceramics Factory together with his brother -started working when he was 17, in 1967. Nowadays, he exclusively deals with administrative aspects, but he is still capable to tell which one of his workers did which piece just by looking at it. The savoir-faire is passed down from father to son, but some are more talented than others and each glass-blower insufflates his own personal touch into his work. The job is hard, sitting seven hours a day next to an over 1000°C hot oven. Workers learn from early childhood and continuously refine the skill.

Hebron Glass is the leading product of those companies. The name originally applied to the national hand-crafted, mouth-blown glass named in Arabic Zujaj Nafakh. Because the color blue is a cultural favorite in the Arab world, Hebron Glass came to describe the blue glass products, both the light turqoise blue (copper blue) and the deep royal blue (cobalt blue). The factories also specialize in a Middle Eastern favorite, Imzakhraf, which is a dot-painted, Arabesque design technique on traditional blown glass.

Donna Verheijden is a Dutch designer based in Amsterdam who studied at the Sandberg Instituut. Her work is undeniably iconic - her videos feature mashups of vintage hollywood end-credits, moments of incredible cinematographic choreography, universally recognizable found footage and self-shot images of everyday life. An interesting intersection of banality and politics, between universal imagery and absolute specificity. In collaboration with Martina Petrelli she filmed a documentary, The House of the Eyes, in the West Bank during the fist Palestinian Art biennale which also coincided with the latest attacks in Gaza.

www.donnaverheijden.nl

The Disarming Design team consists of the core members of the project and develop idea's collectively for new products in collaboration with the many wonderfull producers that they meat.

Ayed Arafah was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Dheisheh refugee camp. Nowadays, he works and lives in Ramallah. He has a BA degree in contemporary visual art from The International Academy of Art and a BA in social work from Al Quds Open University. Combining classic and contemporary media, he explores the conceptual image that aims to motivate a better understanding about the self (my self and others) in relation with society’s issues related to politics, culture and economics. His aim is to engage with different levels of society.

Annelys de Vet (1974, NL) is a Brussels based designer, initiator and curator, founder of a bureau for graphic research and cultural design DEVET. Since 2009 she heads the master in design ‘Think tank for visual strategies’ at the Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam (Masters Rietveld Academie) — where she earned an MDes herself in 1999. She is the co-founder and director of the inclusive design label ‘Disarming Design from Palestine’ that develops, presents and sells useful products from Palestine. The goods are designed during yearly workshops in Palestine with local and international designers that research existing production methods to produce new products that narrate about Palestine’s current reality. Since 2003 De Vet initiated a series of subjective atlases that map countries from a human perspective; including Subjective atlas of Palestine (2007), Subjective atlas of Mexico (2011), Subjective atlas of Fryslân (2013) and Subjective atlas of Colombia (2015) – the next edition will map Pakistan (2016). De Vet co-organized the Masterclass Mediafonds@Sandberg  (2009–2015) which is a laboratory for new forms of digital storytelling for media makers, journalists, artists and designers. From 2003 to 2007 she initiated, designed and organized the ’Temporary Museum Amsterdam’, which was the side program of the art fair Art Amsterdam. She co-curated  the exhibition ‘UNMAPPING THE WORLD’ on critical contemporary mapping practices, for the ExperimentaDesign biennale 2014 in Lisbon and for the international Graphic Design Festival in Chaumont (2015). 

Abu Ameed is a shoemaker and the owner of Rahala Shoes in the center Ramallah. The shop is crammed with samples and one-offs that Abu Ameed dreamed up. He wants customers to come and see their shoes being made, feel the leather, drink coffee and get creative with their footwear.