A Project for Givat Ha’Matos

In 2003 the artist was invited to participate a one month long artist in residency at Arting in Jerusalem: a festival that aimed to bring art to the streets of Jerusalem. The artist decided to develop a project within the poor Givat Ha’Matos neighbourhood on the outskirts of Jerusalem. During the research phase of this project the artist had learned that this neighbourhood was originally build on Palestinian soil by the Israeli government in the nineties with aid from the Netherlands. Large containers had been used to provide housing for Jewish immigrants from predominantly Russia and Ethiopia. By the time the artist started her residency, the Israeli government had commenced evicting people from the containers to be able to demolish them and replace them with more luxurious dwellings in the neighbourhood that was now considered safe Israeli territory. While working on the project the artist realised that the majority of the inhabitants had great financial difficulties and depended on economic support provided by the state. The project resulted in two films of twenty minutes each and a projection of eighty slides.

Because of the limited timeframe to develop the project and the difficult conditions facing the neighbourhood such as desertification, the evictions and the lack of a community centre for public meetings, the artist decided to focus on a small number of inhabitants that would be able to provide her with an overall image of the quarter. The artist soon understood that even though the conditions in Givat Ha’Matos were extremely unfavourable, opinions about staying or going were strongly divided. The artist filmed interviews with the inhabitants about their lives and made a series of photographs that showed how people improved their containers homes with extensions, gardens with artificial grass and blue painted water tanks that served as swimming pools. The artist also handed over the camera to some inhabitants to follow its route along different families.

The project was concluded with a presentation stretched out over two days. On the first day the artist projected a twenty-minute film with the interviews in the centre of Jerusalem. Givat Ha’Matos residents were present and spoke about themselves and their lives. This was a very important presentation, as the majority of people in Jerusalem in general had no clue about the reality of Givat Ha’Matos. The audience was also invited to visit Givat Ha’Matos the next day for the second part of the presentation. The second day the artist projected a selection of eighty photographs of local homes and their extensions, raising questions about reinventing living space in adverse conditions. Also on that day the second film was projected. This film showed the artist’s experience with the community and exposes the invisible support networks that exist within the neighbourhood and reveals one of the Israelite government’s methods of territorial occupation of Palestinian soil by means of social immobility. The film ends with a quote from one of the local residents: ‘It is the Israeli governmental strategy to keep people immobile.’

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Video stills ‘A Project for Givat Ha’Matos’
ST MiniDV 4:3
20’00” HE with NL subtitles

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