ART AS TORTURE (ART AS SURVIVAL)
Farah El-Jayyousi (Columbia, Missouri)
At Al-Fara'a prison, a child was forced to paint a mural for the enjoyment of his captors, his torturers. This beautiful talent he had was co-opted and used as an instrument of his torture alongside humiliation, sleep deprivation, confinement, and much worse. So he painted his village as he remembered it, as he imagined it, on a wall in the dining hall where the Israeli officers who held him and other captive children ate their meals in between torturing the children in this prison. The mural lives on in the building that has been transformed into a community center for the local children.
Art as Resistance
The Tent of Nations farm is filled with art. Murals that insist on celebrating Palestinian culture, Palestinian life, in the midst of demolition orders and uprooted trees. This art is a community effort. Everyone contributes - Palestinian children from the area, volunteers from all over the world, and the family themselves.
Perhaps the most ubiquitous example of art as resistance in Palestine, is the art you can find all over the apartheid wall that cuts through and annexes Palestinian land. Everyone wants to leave their mark on this most blatant form of oppression and mass imprisonment. Qaawim, qaawim. (Resist, resist).
Art as Remembrance
In the Dheisheh refugee camp, near Bethlehem, art is used to remember those killed by Israeli occupation forces. An artist who painted the faces of victims of Israeli state violence stopped making art after he jokingly promised two boys he'd paint them too - and then found himself painting their faces a couple years later. He reappeared to repaint all the murals in color, to celebrate the life of each shaheed (martyr).
In the cave where the Nasser family lived, a family tree is painted on the supporting column in the middle of the space. If the walls don't remember and bear witness, who will?