RAMALLAH is growing exponentially — cranes everywhere lifting, piling huge cement blocs, the excited voices of builders erecting skyscrapers to rival the peaks of Dubai. Where will cars park when all available land is consumed?
Still, parts of older Ramallah are littered with the detritus of autos, furniture, broken down storefronts and a ubiquitous grey/white film of dust, which disguises the old and makes old the new. Car horns blast as impatient drivers race to wither in the heat at checkpoint lines, crowding on narrow roadbeds. Pressure.
Ominous groups of red-tiled rooftops in the too-near distance remind us of recently developed “settlements.” The Security Wall sports graffiti below while intermittent watch towers above remind us that this is an Occupation and everyone is to be watched.
Khaled Hourani, Director of the International Art Academy guides us to studios of talented art students — Noor Abed’s highly personal performances and Ayed Arafah’s painting of his childhood memory, the Dheisheh refugee camp.
Video artists Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme show us clips of their compelling new video, The Zone.
Ra’ouf Haj Yihya’s video game reenacts the demolition of Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem by Israeli settlers.
Rana Bishara escorts us to a concert given by NAWA (Palestinian Institute for Cultural Development) where a dozen sonorous oud players perform “Huna Al Quds.”
Al Hoash mounts a Photo Competition showing Palestinians living with severe economic and social difficulties. The winning work is a series of sexually abused girls and women in a society in which such crimes isolate them from most forms of social contact and support.
We reconnect with Sharif Waked and Samar Martha at the Art Gallery in Um El Fahm where canvases in paint and ash by Osama Said link Jewish victims of the Holocaust and contemporary Palestinian victims of the Israeli occupation.
Avoiding the “Flag Dance” of JERUSALEM DAY, we return to NYC with a copy of poet Najwan Darwish’s new anthology, “Je Me Leverai Un Jour.”