Reading Bil'in in Berlin
Written, directed & produced by b.h. Yael, 2017
Video lengths: 6:45 min (photo 1), 9:40 min (photo 2), 5:30 min (photo 3)
Cantonese, Mandarin, Czech, Spanish, French, English, German, Russian, Portuguese, Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles
Reading Bil'in in Berlin is a 3 monitor installation. Three photographs by activestills were selected from a show of witnessing photographs. Audience members, most of them young, were asked to describe the photographs. Their readings are both a revelation of how photographs are seen and interpreted and a witness to the ongoing occupation of Palestine and the resistance at Bil'in, a village in the West Bank.
The exhibition of activestills photographs at Tachles, an artist squat in Berlin, received an international audience. The photographs were pasted on the concrete walls as can be observed behind the speakers in the video. These are not displayed for their preciousness, but rather as reproducible images in poster quality. The photographs were taken by Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals who use their cameras to provide evidence and witness of Israeli state aggression and settler violence.
I was curious as to how viewers may be perceiving or understanding what they saw in these photographs. Were they aware of the differing positionalities on the ground? Who is who? What is what?
The readings are simple and complex. It is evident that many do not know what is going on at all, some are wary of entering, one or two even identify individuals. Images and descriptions leave much room for misreadings and mistranslations.
Ideally this work would be seen as a three monitor installation, with one photograph represented by each screen. The images are revealed as the video progresses, first in fragments and at the end the full photograph. Each is described in many languages: Cantonese, Mandarin, Czech, Spanish, French, English, German, Russian, Portuguese, Arabic and Hebrew.
Reading Bil'in in Berlin was completed recently in 2017 and has not had its premiere exhibition.
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