The Freedom Theatre in Jenin — Inspiring Palestinian Aspirations for Freedom

Eager audiences waiting for a performance at The Freedom Theatre

Using performance art as a form of resistance is not new, and we need only a cursory look at theater and film to remind us how filmmakers and playwrights have used performance to call out unfair treatment of people by power and authority. Euripides’s The Trojan Women; Shakespeare’s Richard III; Arthur Miller’s The Crucible; and more recently, Francis Ford Coppola‘s Apocalypse Now; Steven Spielberg‘s Amistad; Ava DuVernaySelma; and James Cameron’s Avatar all touch on powerful political and social issues that inspire audience response above and beyond mere entertainment. Even George Lucas’s Star Wars is often viewed as a post-colonialist critique warning against a dystopian fascist future.

Therefore it makes sense that Palestinians participating in The Freedom Theatre in the West Bank use theater and performance as a tactic of resistance, learning, and cultural expression. read more

Visiting the Others: Aylam Rosenthal Ventures Into the West Bank Taking Photos and Gathering Stories.

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Just out of high school and not quite in college, Aylam Rosenthal is couch-surfing in Israel or perhaps working on a kibbutz right now. Although American, he spends time in Israel with his dad or grandparents, and he carries with him a family gift: his digital camera. His style of photography is highly colorful and light, and his images of peers convey romantic transformations from adolescence to adulthood equal to what you’ll see in GAP lifestyle advertising or Real Simple editorial. This could be a narrative of a young man traveling abroad leaving a trail of Instagram and Facebook photo journal images chronicling discovery of culture and heritage. However, he has ventured past Israeli security crossings into Palestinian territory, zone B, where he’s gained the trust of villagers, photographed them, and retold their stories. read more

Nour Festival in London Features Middle East Visual and Performing Art 20 October Through 6 November

arab-puppet-theatre-foundation_catching-the-ball-image-1-lama-chidiac
The Arab Puppet Theatre Foundation

Those lucky enough to be in London right now will enjoy a spectacular treasure trove of culture from the Middle East. Each year the city hosts the Nour Festival featuring visual art, literature, music, and performance — this year, from fifteen countries. Appropriately, the themes of this year’s festival focus on topics of displacement and conflicted identity as millions of people are driven from homelands by war forcing them into exile and causing them to face challenges that migration brings. read more

Israeli-Palestinian Musicians of Heartbeat Take Aim at the Mechanisms of Segregation

The important thing to know about Heartbeat is that it is an educational instrument for changing the dynamic between Israeli and Palestinian inequality using creative communication, its vehicle being music. By choosing music — an art form that is, hands down, the most widely distributed, universal, and addictive of cultural art forms — the lessons propagated through Heartbeat’s curriculum lead its Israeli and Palestinian youth participants on a path that diverges from socially conditioned confrontation to creative partnership by demanding equality toward fellow musicians and devotion to making music. read more

Western Art Roaming Syrian Destruction: Tammam Azzam Overlays Classic Vignettes Atop Catastrophic Images

The Syrian Museum: Mona Lisa
The Syrian Museum: Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa looks passively content at us as though the annihilated buildings behind her are part of a snap shot she asks locals to take of her before her vacation ends and she returns to Paris. Within moments she’ll post them on Facebook or Instagram and mention what a wild place Syria can be. When seen through a media lens, images of catastrophe, especially after five-plus long years of catastrophic images coming from Syria, bear a similar ongoing dreariness. We’ve seen image after image of blown up buildings and carnage on social media and news, and each iteration becomes more like the previous and the previous before that. Interrupt this unrelenting parade of mayhem with the intrusion of excerpts of famous classic Western art, and suddenly the rubble and the calamity are freshened up significantly as is our repulse to them. read more