Our group chose to raise awareness of Israel's systematic oppression of Palestinians, a situation increasingly mirroring South African apartheid: farmers are prevented from reaching their olive groves, families are disconnected from each other by military checkpoints, and students, if they do not miss class completely, are often harassed on their commutes. Israel occupies Palestinian land with brutal military force, exercised through the imposition of walls and checkpoints that divide, disrupt, and disadvantage Palestinians in their native land. Because Brown students are too often insulated from awareness of the plight of ordinary Palestinians (a condition compounded by the mainstream media's lack of attention to Palestine except when it serves as a base for suicide bombers and rocket launchers) we envision our project as a much needed corrective.
We have constructed 3 mobile, 6'x8' segments of plywood, painted a concrete grey. These installations, which represent the walls and checkpoints, were placed at a strategic high-traffic location on campus (outside of the dining hall) chosen to maximize the number of passersby and to create an arresting spectacle of live graffiti, which served to disseminate messages of resistance and hope (and provided a way for some enthusiastic students to participate), and performance, which dramatized the harassment that Palestinians face at checkpoints. The walls created the perfect opportunity to distribute carefully targeted flyers that channel students' frustrations with finals into a greater awareness of the travails of Palestinian students. Focusing on the right to education and presenting Brown students with testimonies from Palestinian students brings what is usually imagined as a conflict between the state of Israel and Palestinian terrorists into the sphere of quotidian experiences, of classes and exams, thereby allowing for Palestinians to appear not as monstrous terrorist others, but as human beings whose rights are blatantly disregarded.
We are concerned with how this project may affect all of us - those who participate and those who are confronted by the messages - to reconsider our relation to the world, and the responsibilities that our privileged situation carries. We have aimed at makng students think critically about Brown's own insular campus environment, as well as to become more aware of systematic injustices that exist beyond our national borders. In turn, we hope that our actions will encourage students to engage in the active discourses on Israeli apartheid and on the injustice of the humanitarian, economic and social conditions imposed on Palestinians.We hope that our present activism may help in some small way to lead to a lasting and justice peace between Israel and Palestine.
I helped with the construction of wall (I helped paint the wall) . I also organized the volunteers that were helping us with the project and bought some of the materials. I helped design the posters and the flyers by getting the testimonials from Palestinian students (the ones that were on the back of the flyer) and helped with the editing of the video and I table slipped.
After I helped in set up the wall at the event I spent the majority of the time handing out flyers and talking to people who seem interested in knowing more about the situation in Palestine. I think the event was successful because we got a lot of attention from the passerby and several people started having discussions about the situation in Palestine. The project had two purposes the first was to educate Brown students about the Apartheid wall in Palestine as well as the difficulties of being a student living under occupation. The project also shows the ways in which the apartheid wall, checkpoints, and occupation negatively impact education and how they disrupt people's everyday lives. The other purpose was to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and to show them that we have not forgotten about their suffering. The project is starting to get attention in Palestine and will be airing on one of the local TV stations (Watan) and will be sent out to several other TV stations in the Arab world ( who may decide to air the video)
My role in this project dealt mainly with the visual elements, designing our publicity materials and then shooting and editing our video documentation.
The idea for our promotional poster and tableslip came from a map of Palestine outlining the wall and marking Israeli settlements and checkpoints. We took the legend from this map and placed its symbols on a map of Brown's campus under the question, "What if Brown were Palestine?" The poster was meant to be slightly ambiguous. We did not want to weaken our tactical position by alerting Brown Students for Israel to our exact project and chancing that they would organize a counter protest. Thus, the poster engages the viewer to question what he or she is looking at rather than simply providing information.
The flyers were handed out during the duration of our installation. They included an informational front, displaying statistics and information on the Wall and Israeli checkpoints, and a back profiling a Palestinian youth with quoted testimonial on how the Israeli occupation has affected them. Given the wide array of statistics surrounding the wall, we chose to focus on those dealing with education rights since our audience consisted mainly of college students. This focus was also inherent in the title of the flyer, "Think finals are hard? Try studying for them in Palestine." The backs included one of six different profiles. Compared to the front of the flyer, which is text heavy, the back is dominated by the face of the individual speaking. This element served to humanize the project and also provide a speaker that the viewer could immediately relate to since many of the testimonials were taken from Palestinians in the college age range.
We filmed short clips throughout the duration of installation. Editing focused on setting up the wall, interacting with students, and documenting the development of the wall graffiti. Unfortunately the camera ran out of battery while we were filming a performance sequence that involved one of the guards strip searching Patrick.
Overall, I was very pleased with the outcome of the project. Even the location near Brown's dining hall ended up being a good choice. We had continuous traffic from start to finish. Many people who took our flyers were seen reading them as they were waiting in line to enter the dining hall. I also speculate that many of these flyers were subsequently left on tables in the dining hall, allowing us to reach people who may have not taken a flyer.
This project was a welcome opportunity to bring my activism as a senior back to where it startedas a freshman: out in front of the Ratty, spreading the good word. Throughout the project I've learned much about the oppression that Palestinians endure every day, which has led me to get involved in the Boycotts, Divestments & Sanctions movement at Brown. I look forward to working on this issue for the remainder of my time here. This action proved a heartening experience for me: many more people took flyers than I would have expected (by my calculations, we distributed at least 500 flyers), a fair number of people stopped to discuss the action, and a few even took the spray paint into their own hands. If all goes according to plan, our project will be featured in the Palestinian television news and will serve as a message of solidarity and hope.
My contributions to the project: I suggested using plywood to construct the walls, worked with Henderson to get the supplies, helped to paint the wall, tableslipped, printed and cut flyers, suggested a performance of a student being humiliated, played the harrassed student in that performance, rewrote the statement above from an earlier draft, and created the wiki pages for the project.
For our final group project, On The Wall, we have constructed an installation that represents the wall erected in the occupied lands of Palestine. Having painted these wall sections - 4' x 6' pieces of plywood hinged together - a concrete grey, we had graffitied information and words onto the wall sections. With our intended audience of the Brown community, our objective was to voice the aspects of injustice, which the wall in Palestine represents and perpetuates. Despite the limited volume of traffic due to finals, I feel that our project was successful in fulfilling its objectives.
In the interests of facilitating the successful execution of the project, I had provided: (1) temporary financial assistance for the acquisition of material; and (2) studio space for the construction. Accordingly, I played an important role in coordinating the logisitics of executing the project, most importantly, offering a space in which the group could meet, work together, and discuss the ideas implemented in the project itself. I helped author the projects manifesto, and played an important role in formalizing the ideas that were echoed amongst the group.
Finally, it must be mentioned that we had encountered a conflict of interest with the administration. Originally, we had intended to execute our project without properly registering it with the university. But through our efforts to recruit additional volunteers (not nearly as successful as had been expected), the SAO kindly requested our event be registered. In the interest of maintaining the possibility of funding from the MCM department, maximizing the effectiveness of our message, as well as keeping the political possibilities open for student groups, our group decided that it was best that we did register the event. My role in this situation was coordinating between the group and the Student Activitites Office, ensuring that our event was fully sanctioned by the university. The ends of this decision were ultimately successful. We provided a space on which graffiti-ing could be legitimately performed in such a way as to project a particular message, one which resonates with a broader movement at an international level.