Witness : Palestine - Barbara Hammer
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We are the original inhabitants, this is our ancestral homeland and now we find ourselves as strangers on our own soil. I hope that the world understands the level of discrimination and racism that we face. I am sorry, but please allow me to criticize the American foreign policy towards the Palestinian people. Among you on this tour we see ambassadors of justice and freedom. So we present our case for you so that you can share our stories with the people when you go home ó Abu Hussam, a Nakba survivor from the destroyed village of Lajun.
In Witness : Palestine, artist Barbara Hammer deftly layers film practice, politics and performance. Inspired in form by Italian artist Fabio Mauriís 1975 performance in which he projected Pier Paolo Pasoliniís The Gospel According to St Matthew onto Pasolini himself, and in content by contemporary accounts of Palestinians living under the Israeli occupation, Hammer has created a work of startling intimacy and urgency.
Moved by the stories of men and women she met while on the first LGBTQ Solidarity Tour of Palestine in January 2012, Hammer sought to find a way to share their voices in a manner that would underline the humanity and vulnerability of her subjects. In this performance, Hammer assembles a group of seven volunteers from the audience, each of whom dons a large white T-shirt and white mask. Thus attired, these participants become the three-dimensional screens onto which Hammer projects films of Palestinians telling their stories: a man tells of losing his village when he was six, a sister speaks about her brother killed by a rubber bullet, a farmer says he cannot travel to his land to plant ó the stories of suffering, hardship and loss are spoken one by one. Somehow the simple human screens lend the voices a chilling presence, as the volunteers become the physical embodiment of the speakers to which we listen, the vulnerable flesh, blood, bone and spirit of a people living in a perpetual state conflict and danger.
Hammerís performance will complement the survey of her work concurrently presented by TIFF Cinematheque (April 4-7) at TIFF Bell Lightbox. More info: tiff.net.
(2013, 30 min, Live Performance)
Pier Paolo Pasolini
(2013, 52 min, Live Performance)