Everyday Forms of Resistance

Everyday Forms of Resistance is a polymorphic project scheduled over several years, the result of cooperation between the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art (Warsaw), the city of Ramallah and two partnering institutions: AIR Antwerp and the Helsinki International Artist Program (HIAP). In 2019, the project will produce a number of public events intertwined with Ujazdowskis discursive programme. In 2020, the endeavour will be topped off with a collective exhibition.

The general aim of the project is to use artistic practice and artists personal mobility as means of mutual insight for artistic circles of Poland and Palestine, and to investigate the possible roles of art in the politically difficult context peculiar to Palestine.

One of the first undertakings within Everyday Forms of Resistance are individual artistic residencies revolving around the question of whether it is possible, through artistic intervention, to translate social tensions into narratives that, in turn, will shape the imaginary landscapes of places? (Francis Alÿs, The Green Line, 2004).

Spring and autumn of 2019 will see several artists, singled-out via an open-call, going on their respective three-month residencies in Ramallah, Antwerp, Helsinki and Warsaw: Ahmed Alaqra (Palestine), Jumana Emil Abboud (Palestine), Mirna Bamieh (Palestine), Wim Catrysse (Belgium), Karolina Grzywnowicz (Poland), Timo Tuhkanen (Finland). Moreover, last years artists-in-residence in Ramallah from Poland Joanna Rajkowska and Jaśmina Wójcik as well as their Palestinian collaborator and fellow artist Mohammad Saleh have been invited to participate in the continuation of the project.

The exchange programme formula is meant to encourage artists to engage in dialogue inside their own surroundings and to communicate with audiences. By taking advantage of the exchange strategy and of artistic residency as a tool, a group of artists will embark on a trip and learn about the everyday reality of Palestine.

At present, the Palestinian state is genuinely autonomous only in part of its territories, namely: the towns inside the so-called Zone A. Besides, significant areas within the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are either crossed-through or surrounded by illegally established Israeli settlements. Israel also entirely controls electricity and water supplies for Palestine. Both Jerusalem, still the states official capital, the isolated Gaza Strip, and most of the rural Palestinian areas are administratively, politically and economically dependent on Israel.

Following the events which took place back in the 20th century, for many residents of Palestine the basic civil right of having a nationality-assigned passport with the resulting right to travel became a privilege. At the same time due to limited availability of land, its astronomical prices and overcomplicated administrative regulations farming is now something for selected few. Because of all that, in Palestine any gesture, not only an artistic one, has a political meaning. Be it weekly collective cooking in the highlands, seeding edible plants on slices of soil inside refugee camps, or even collecting fossils: all such activities are meant to give people's lives a sense of purpose and a normal rhythm.

When talking with Palestinians about even the most trivial everyday things we will hear about  nakbah (occupation), hijrah (migration), makan (displacements) and muqawamah (struggle). The Palestinian everyday-life dictionary, however, turns out to be about much more: it is full of positive words and notions. In it, we will for example find an entry such as (one)h (collectivity). It is a term describing not just the olden-days rituals of collective work, but also the present day practice of the RIWAQ foundation which aims to revitalise Palestine's architectural heritage. Mujawarah, on the other hand, means collective life where relationships are based not on the idea of reciprocity, but follow David Graebeber's definition of communism, i.e. of people treating each other according to the rule of: “everyone contributing what they can, and everyone getting what they need. Among other often used terms we will find madhafah (hospitality), holom (dream), as well as numerous names for ways and times of meeting and getting together with people: lammeh, jomaa, qadeh.

By carrying out the long-term project Everyday Forms of Resistance we would like to familiarise the Polish audience with important aspects of the Palestinian “here and now. We want to try and answer the question about the  significance that subjects connected to Palestinian people's tradition and ethos (e.g. travel, hospitality, nature) acquire in this kind of context.

The complexity of stories we learn when visiting Palestine and meeting its residents, the nuances connected to deciphering history, the numerous aspects of migration and the complications regarding, for example, the regulations on urban development jointly cause that every single person who chooses to visit that country has to learn to understand it his or her own way.

The first public event connected to the project will be held in the autumn of 2019: Ujazdowski will be exhibiting a creation of the DAAR Collective (Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti) entitled Al Madhafah: Living Room.

The room called Al-Madhafah in Arabic is a space in between the public and the private sphere: it serves the purpose of showing hospitality. Al-Madhafah is a place with a potential of undermining the traditional division between host and visitor which, in turn, can bring about new social and political significance associated with acts of hospitality. The fact of inviting Al-Madhafah to Ujazdowski will cause Palestinian artist Sandi Hilal to become the host of the exhibition space and a co-author of the whole project. At the same time, it will enable the Polish audience to take part in a several-day-long discursive programme focused on significant aspects of Palestines everyday reality.