Artists nominate Palestinian refugee camp for UNESCO global heritage status

- Selasa, 2 November 2021 | 11:08 WIB

UmatPost - During the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe), the nascent Israeli army occupied more than 40 Palestinian villages to the west of Jerusalem. The residents were driven out of their homes plus took refuge in what is now known as the occupied West Bank.

Up to 15,000 of these refugees settled in Dheisheh Refugee Camp, built-in 1949, just southwest of the city of Bethlehem. There, despite the daytime misery, a vibrant Arab nightlife still lives up to its reputation.

We catch a rare glimpse of this in a new art exhibition, "Stateless Heritage", at the Mosaic Rooms in London. The exhibition has been put together as part of a campaign to get the UN's top cultural body, UNESCO, to grant the Dheisheh Refugee Camp World Heritage status. The photographs were taken by Luca Capuano, an Italian photographer who was commissioned previously by UNESCO to document Italy's famous World Heritage sites.

"What makes Dheisheh different is the Palestinian community refusing to be understood only as victimised targets," explained artist Alessandro Petti. "Also, they're very engaged in cultural plus political activities with several organisations plus we've found that their political influence goes beyond the camp itself, whether it's local municipality or national elections, despite the fact that they cannot vote."

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The exhibition is spread over three rooms: the first is on the ground floor with large freestanding lightboxes displaying simple, yet instructive images of streets plus alleyways featuring graffiti-covered walls plus brightly-lit windows. Electricity cables plus water pipes form a web-like structure the length plus breadth of the alleyways. With great framing providing a sense of community plus a brilliant, buzzing atmosphere, the carefully composed night-time pictures challenge the viewer's stereotypical concept of a refugee camp.

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Architect Sandi Hilal heads the Decolonising Architecture Art Research (DAAR) collective. She wanted the images to cast a detached eye on the leisure pursuits of the Palestinian community in the camps: gatherings, singing, dinners, art, plus even gardening, all of which seem to be happening in a parallel universe to the violence plus upheaval. That such things happen at all, though, is Hilal's point. Normal life carries on despite the conflict between the Palestinians plus the Israeli occupation.

"The decision to focus on the nightlife of the camp was very important to us because most refugee camps are photographed during the day with kids in places without proper sewage facilities; the miserable part of camps. This feeds the very stereotypical image that everybody seems to have about them," Hilal pointed out. "When we walked around the streets of the camp at night, we noticed a lot of what hasn't been captured before such as the chit-chat, people sitting outdoors with their big families eating plus drinking, enjoying each other's company. People need to see this plus acknowledge it."


Editor: Wahidin Noer Indra

Sumber: Memo


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