For you, what does it mean to be free?
On my birthdays as a child, I’d blow my candles wishing for a free Palestine, for my family and all Palestinians to return to our homeland. For us to simply 'live', in justice, to be able to express ourselves without limitation, fear, oppression. Our dream lives on, but we are close.
Tell me about Palettes of Palestine, how did it start and how is your experience working on it?
Palettes of Palestine isn’t just an event or cultural concept but an invitation and call to action to raise awareness and resist through art and culture. With Joanna, Suzanne, Hannah and Berenice, we aim to bring people together to discover more of Palestine which is often overshadowed in mainstream media due to the reality Palestinians face under illegal occupation and apartheid.
We want to start a conversation about Palestine in circles where the topic might be new or far out of reach. The goal is to give space and shed light on Palestinian artists, youth, creativity and entrepreneurship.
Our first event involved a theatre and embroidery workshop, dance performances, slam poetry, live art and film screenings. We introduced people to resistance heritage songs, traditional Palestinian food and sweets. We also host expositions where we display artwork of kids from Gaza and turn their art into posters and t-shirts. We want to keep Palestinian artists’ stories alive, for them to become echoes of their vulnerability and creativity. The collective has bred a powerful mix of support, care, action and motivation. It has created a safe space for sharing, maintaining hope and finding inspiration, all while grieving.
In what concrete ways can the art and cultural sector effectively help with the current situation?
By bringing people together, creating a safe space of support for uncomfortable yet needed dialogue, forming connections and expressing feelings or critique without necessarily using words. Art has the power to challenge viewpoints, break down borders, confront without destroying and fight without bloodshed. It can open minds and hearts, unveiling the humanity behind numbers, stepping over prejudices and hitting targets without using weapons. The art and culture sector can provide a space for all these actions to take place while supporting, healing and moving people.
Art has the power to challenge viewpoints, break down borders, confront without destroying, and fight without bloodshed.
<img class="editorial-image" src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/656f530c8c28030e87b45a32_profile1.webp"/>
As an artist/a cultural worker living in Europe, Do you think your audience and environment understand your art/work, and deal with your art the way you intended?
<p>‘My origins, a highly contested topic
Is it a state? Is it legit?
Parts of the world question my existence,
How do I explain to them,
I debate in my head when I meet someone
Where I will be from today?’
From my poem: Have you guessed yet where I’m from?</p>
I often find myself carefully curating a response, in anticipation of how someone might transform their knowledge of my heritage into a fun political debate. I cling to hope while channelling my anger and pain into productive meaningful impact, be it through my creative writing or organising events. I’m always incredibly moved and honoured to see tears shed as I share vulnerable words about my identity and experience, especially for the diaspora and Arab youth, whom it resonates deeply with. Art, events and poetry build bridges while transcending political boundaries, the Palestinian cause is a cause for all; for all to be as angry and touched by.
Art, events and poetry build bridges while transcending political boundaries, the Palestinian cause is a cause for all, for all to be as angry and touched by.
And does the meaning of your art/work change according to where it is being consumed?
In relation to the Palettes of Palestine exposition, the meaning of artwork is unambiguous, children are like other children wherever they are born. This meaning doesn't change no matter where the artwork is shown, what changes is the response and the impact of the works, depending on one’s connection to the subject.
An artwork, poem, music, or photo you want us to look at/learn more about today?
This is one of the artworks we exhibited at our event and exposition, made by Sham, a teenager in Gaza:
<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/656f52e119c87660e79b6897_differentclass(favoH).webp"/>
<img class="editorial-image-50-right" src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/656f52fabbade62adfbf509a_differentclass370267432_316217431179381_7882114956832169112_n.webp"/>
<div class="editorial-banner"> <div class=“editorial-credits”> <br/> Cover photo: @wimwtsls / Sham's work sent to us via Palettes of Palestine (@palettesofpalestine) <br/> If you would like to buy a t-shirt with Sham's painting or other kids' work, go here. All funds raised to go to HOPE Foundation. <br/> Donate now to Medical Aid Palestine or to the Palestine children's relief fund to address urgent humanitarian needs in Palestine. Or learn more at Decolonize Palestine. </div></div>