Palestinia artist living in Denmark
1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background
I was born in East Jerusalem and grew up in Bethlehem. I had to leave Palestine when the schools closed in 1988 due to the first Intifada. I moved to London, England where I finished my high school. I have also started Philosophy and Fine Arts studies in London and later moved to the US where I graduated with a Masters in Fine Arts from New York University.
2. When, how and why started you filming?
I started using video in my art practice around 2003 and I think it was largely due to the Israeli siege of Bethlehem in 2002. At the time I was getting really frustrated by the way the media was covering the events that were taking place in Bethlehem and I saw that there was a great need for providing an alternative source to the outside world. I was watching news of the siege in Copenhagen, Denmark and was shocked by the discrepancy between the information I was getting from western media and the one I was getting from family and friends during our telephone conversations. Video became the most appropriate medium for me to use to present an alternative view and image.
3.What kind of subjects have your films?
My videos deal mostly with the Palestinian condition and the stereotypical image of Arabs in the outside world. My works usually heavily reference popular western films and music and somehow create an absurd collage between them and the reality of Palestinians.
4. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?
In my work, I tend not to tackle political subjects with the gravity that is usually expected when commenting on conflict areas. My aim is to reengage the viewer with the topic of Palestine. I think the world has become immune to the news that comes out of the Middle East. This maybe is the result of the history of the region, the repetitiveness of the news and the fact that the conflict has been going on for a long period of time.
I think that there is an urgent need to present the world with a new image of Palestine and the Arab world in general, different from what we see on the news of refugees,violence and poverty. Although these elements exist they do end up forming an erroneous picture of the Arab world. In the present day conflict between East and West these images are especially dangerous for they tend to exaggerate or reinforce stereotypes rather than ease dialogue.
5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.
I use a 3 CCD camera for filming and Final Cut Pro for editing.
6. What are the chances of new media for the genre film/video in general
and you personally?
I think the chances are very big and I find the use of video to be particularly exciting since it can reach a wider audience than the regular gallery goers. I show my work in museums, galleries as well as film festivals and online and this has broadened my audience significantly.
7. How do you finance your films?
I sometimes finance my films out of my own pocket but I do often get grants from art institutions and the art council in Denmark and in England for bigger productions.
8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team?
if you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?
I think working with video and films automatically means the involvement of other people. The extent of the involvement of other people in my work varies depending on the projects I work on.
The bigger the production the more people are also involved in post-production. I find the process of working in a team exhausting as well as exciting. So many decisions made in the end are the result of a collaborative effort. In that sense the work tends to break away from the aura of authorship. I do enjoy working with others and I now do find it strange to work alone without the consultation and feedback of people around me.
9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?
The artists that I exhibit and meet at international shows.
Films and elements from main-stream culture also have a big influence on my work. Also, international politics.
10. What are your future plans or dreams as a film/video maker?
I would like to have my videos shown to an even wider audience and maybe somehow create a online forum about the work. I think that I would soon like to engage more with the possibilities of the web.
Otherwise, I am also interested in dedicating sometime for making a feature film.
* Article by Rotterdam based critic and curator Nat Muller.
*Article by Maymannah Farhat