WESTBANK by Grischa Schmitz
A short journey from East Jerusalem to Bil`in. May 2006.

WE WISH YOU A SAFE AND PLEASANT TRANSIT.

The initial reason for my trip to Israel and Palestine was a love story.
Not one that was actually existing but artistically conceived: a love story between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man, which should be the base of a video installation for the opera „Zaide / Adama“ at the Salzburg Festival.

Together with the video artist and filmmaker Kai Ehlers I finally arrived in Tel Aviv to meet our actress Dovrat. Unlike other Israeli artists she was willing to work with us on our idea, which from all sides was rejected as utopian and far from any possible reality. And above all, she believed in this idea.

Right on the evening of our arrival she showed us video footage of demonstrations near the village of Bil‘in in the West Bank, in which she illegally - entering Palestinian areas is prohibited for Israeli civilians - participated together with other critical Israelis and the Palestinian inhabitants.

In early 2005 the residents of Bil‘in had begun to non-violently demonstrate every Friday together with foreign supporters against the erection of barriers on their land...

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The pictures for "A short journey from East Jerusalem to Bil'in. May 2006." were taken beside our work for the video installation, they were not part of the opera production.

I photographed situations, events, people and places in Israel and the West Bank. I didn’t follow a personal story, all encounters resulted from our original task. Only later, while I selected the images, I decided to concentrate on the Israeli separation barrier and the people in its immediate surroundings. Looked at from the Palestinian side and on a relatively short, retraceable journey: from East Jerusalem to Bil'in.

MAY YOU GO IN PEACE AND RETURN IN PEACE !

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