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Liminal Spaces: Liminal Spaces

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Halas_Radio on 07/20/2009 at 01:42PM

Liminal Spaces Israeli / Palestinian collaborative art project

Liminal Spaces was launched in March 2006 with a three-day international conference and a series of excursions along Road no. 60 – which connects Jerusalem to Ramallah and to the Qalandia checkpoint and refugee camp.

This conference inaugurated the first stage of the project, which was followed by six months of residencies in the regions of the participating artists. In November 2006 artists' works from the project were exhibited in Leipzig, Germany and parallel to that a second conference took place. The third and last meeting  of Liminal Spaces took place in October 2007 with a three-day traveling conference in Palestinian and nationally mixed towns in Israel. Liminal Spaces materials, in the way of transcripts, articles, pieces of fiction, and artists' pages are now being gathered for a reader that will be published in Spring, 2009.

The project must be viewed as a platform whose goal is first and foremost to enable forms of 'working together.'  Such methods of working concern not only the production of artworks, but even more importantly discussion and dialogue among Israeli and Palestinian artists and cultural producers, and between them and international colleagues – in a reality in which any form of collaboration is impossible. This platform has been made possible, in the face of numerous external obstacles, due to a number of understandings shared by all participants. These understandings include the need to bring the Israeli occupation to a final and rapid end; opposition to the blatant violation of human and civil rights; and the need for joint action in order to advance these goals.

This firm foundation constitutes Liminal's main strength. The creation of successful dialogue and collaboration requires direct encounters between the participants. Encounters of this kind – among people who live a short distance from one another is the most complex and expensive mission undertaken by the Liminal Spaces project.

The restrictions on movement between the West Bank and Israel have created a situation in which such meetings require travel to a third destination (such as Leipzig), or the risk of unnecessary interaction with the Israeli army when entering the Palestinian Authority. Freedom of movement and the ability to travel are the project's most complex challenge, and the great difficulty with which it coped. Despite our use of the digital tools available for long-distance communication, there is no substitute for direct contact – which participants in the project were able to experience in the three meetings that have taken place.

In so far as its working methods, Liminal Spaces underwent a number of key changes in the course of its production due to the changing political circumstances. It managed to maintain its course of production and development despite the harsh conditions of the Israeli occupation and the continuation of violations of basic human rights and hostilities in the region. The group of participating artists and curators, as well as the scholars and critics who participated in all the conferences, constitute a sound foundation for the project's evolution into a living network of Middle East culture.

Liminal Spaces is based on a working model which includes a shared process between artists, curators, thinkers, architects and other cultural producers from the region and worldwide. Participants contribute to a database of knowledge specifically related to the region in focus – West Bank, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Lod and other mixed towns in Israel.  This production of knowledge as well as the opportunity to work in the region is the basis for action taken in the framework of Liminal Spaces thereafter: research, residencies, production, exhibition, conferences, travels etc.

Liminal Spaces I – Qalandia; East Jerusalem (10.03.2006 - 12.03.2006)
Road 60 is the historic traffic artery between Jerusalem, Ramallah and beyond. Its present condition is prototypical of the alienation, segregation, and fragmentation that characterize the Israeli method of occupation. The once fluid space of connection and urban growth has dissolved into a complex array of buffer zones, security or containment zones, border areas, walls or sites of involuntary proximity and collision such as checkpoints (both permanent and temporary). Before the erection of the Wall and checkpoints, the road was a monument to the colonial relation between Israeli and the Palestinian areas; urban growth was severely curtailed from 1967 onwards by a plethora of laws and zoning regulations.

This first stage of Liminal Spaces was developed by curators, cultural figures and artists as a series of meetings and discussions that sought to generate active participation of the art sector in developing modes of expression against the political status quo of occupation, dehumanization and oppression. The curators invited an array of local and international cultural figures to participate, with a mandate to enable new possibilities of contact and exchange on an individual basis and beyond.

Liminal Spaces II – Leipzig, Germany (27.10.2006 - 27.01.2007)
Following individual residencies, European, Palestinian and Israeli artists embraced the opportunity to research tactics and artistic strategies for addressing the physiognomy of specific sites and their everyday operations, and for exposing the spatial and contextual politics of the Israeli occupation.  The gathering in Leipzig was foregrounded by an exhibition, giving participants the opportunity to meet again at a distance from the researched space, and to reflect on the evolution of the process thus far.  Meeting outside the region raised new questions regarding the perception of the Middle East and the image of Palestine and Israel in Europe, and especially in Germany. These questions directly related to the issue of responsibility, and to the different resonances of the term in the Middle East and Europe.

The exhibition represented a single stage in a longer process; thus, it was accompanied by an international workshop/conference, which further explored the political and social responsibilities of art-making and discussed current trends transforming the roles of institutions, artists, curators and activists. Specifically, we decided to focus on the notion of responsibility in the context of the Middle East, which has witnessed the escalation of violence
and of human and civil rights violations; the continuation of the Israeli military occupation; the building of an apartheid wall; and the complete breakdown of the peace process. We examined this notion in the context of post- Fordist Central Europe, where the erosion of social democratic principles is challenging artists and institutions to survive in a harsher social climate, and to fight for the acceptance and the engagement of a wider public. 

Liminal Spaces III – Mixed Cities (25.10.2007 - 27.10.2009)
A three-day traveling conference was held in October, 2007 in Palestinian and mixed cities in Israel. The aim was to continue to investigate the liminal spaces of urban areas within Israel and the inter-connection between the reality in the West-Bank and Israel.  Secondly, we wished to question the liminality of identities created within the boundaries of the Jewish state. And lastly, a substantial aim was to enable mobility on a large scale within Israel
for Palestinian artists, curators and students which proved to be a very rare and complicated task involving working with security officials, the Israeli Army, and Border Police.

Liminal Spaces participants include: Rene  Gabri, Ayreen Anastas, Khaled Hourani, Inas Yassin, Sandi Hilal, Alessandro Petti, Yazan Khalili, Khalil Rabah, Salim Tamari, Yazid Anan, Suleiman Mansour, Sami Bukhari, Oren Sagiv, Yochai Avrahami, Miri Segal, Tal Adler, Yossi Atia, Itamar Rose, Hagar Goren, Buthayna Dabit, Jumana Emil Abboud, Senan Abdelqader, Orhan Esen, Manar Zuabi, Anjalika Sagar, Kodwo Eshun, Lida Abdul, Charles Esche, Sanja Ivekovic, Simon Wachsmuth, Mauricio Guillen, Michael Blum, Lia Perjovschi, Hans Bernhard, Solmaz Shahbazi, Artur Zmijewski, Francis Mckee, Nina Montmann, Erden Kosova, Salwa Mikdadi, Yael Bartana, Oliver Clemens, Sabine Horlitz, and Scandar Copti.

For Liminal Spaces, project curators Eyal Danon, Philipp Misselwitz, Galit Eilat, and Reem Fadda received a Best Art Practices International Award for Young Curators in 2007. The award was granted for the ability of the curators to organize a joint project, in a very troubled area...and the desire of the project to create a discussion platform in which writers, artists and curators from Palestine, Israel and other parts of the world were involved, as well as the ability of the curators to find support for the other stages of the project in Europe. +Liminal Spaces is supported by European Cultural Foundation, the Delegation of the European Commission to the State of Israel, the German Federal Cultural Foundation, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Goethe-Institut Jerusalem, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Austrian Culture Forum, Universitat der Kunste Berlin, Tel Aviv Institut Francais.

Liminal Spaces is a collaboration between the Center for Digital Art, Israel and the Palestinian Association for Contemporary Art, Ramallah (PACA). 
www.liminalspaces.org

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