Middle East Europe - Reflection of the Middle Eastern Conflict in Art, Activism, and Media

15. 4. 2012 from 10:30 to 18:30

The conference Middle East Europe - Reflection of the Middle Eastern Conflict in Art, Activism, and Media, organised by curator Tamara Moyzes, seeks to map various approaches to the Middle Eastern conflict and its reflection in art and media viewed from the perspective of artists, activists, visual theorists, and media analysts. The speakers from the “Middle Eastern” as well as “Western” background will cover a plethora of media ranging from printed media and TV broadcasting, to art strategies, activist performances, and film. The conference’s double aim is to critically assess the ways in which the media images of the conflict shape its “substance” and to reflect on the possible impact of the art dealing with the issue. Also, on a more general level, the representation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in art is a model example for all art that speaks of political matters. What is at stake here is the ethical role of political art and the related questions such as: What is the consequence of commenting on a problem of which the artist has no personal knowledge? How does a reception of such work change when translated from the country of its origin to the location it deals with and how does this transfer shift its meaning? Is there a fundamental difference between art and activism? Does political art matter?
The themes are divided into two blocks along the two main approaches. The presentations within the morning panel will be concerned with the representation and self-representation in media proper and its use to the activist means while the afternoon programme will deal with art and activism.

Conference in Prague will be followed by discussions and symposia in the following locations: Labor Gallery, Budapest (april 2012); Eurient Leipzig (May 2012); Musrara School Jeruzalem (fall 2012).
10.30 – 11.00 Registration 

11.00 – 11:15  Introduction Tamara Moyzes

11.15 – 12.15 Doc. Mgr. Attila Kovács, PhD.: 
From Text to the Image: Visual Representations of the Palestinian Islamic Movements 

JUDr. PhDr. Marek Čejka, Ph.D.: 
Peace activism of religious Jews and media 

Chaired by Ivona Remundová – Novomestská


12.15 – 12.30
Coffee break

12.30 – 14.00
Eva Nováková:
The popular struggle against the occupation and its international support, namely the International Solidarity Movement and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign   

Yonatan Shapira:
Activism of Israelis in the Apartheid State and what can I do with all my priviledges?

Shireen Al-Araj:
The role of art in non-violent resistence / Nonviolent resistance and art

Chaired by Ivona Remundová – Novomestská

14.00 – 14.30 Plenary


14.30 – 15.30
 Lunch


15.30 – 16.30
Eszter Lazar, Zoltán Kékesi:
Embedded Narratives. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in two Projects by Róza El-Hassan and László Gergely 

Volker März:
All art should be intelligent, political, with humour - art is nescessary to brake taboos - and all taboos should be broken once to have a look through 

Chaired by Marta Smolíková


16.30 – 16.45 
Coffee break


16.45 – 17.45

Damir Nikšič:
Activist art and Ministry of culture 

Shlomi Yaff: 
The victim's motive in the Israeli video art /

Moderátor / Chaired by Marta Smolíková


17.45 – 18.15 Plenary

18.15 -  18:30 Concluding remarks with all speakers

Attila Kovács
From Text to the Image: Visual Representations of the Palestinian Islamic Movements


The Palestinian Islamic movements, as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Hamas has relied on every possible medium to get its message across: political speeches and communiqués, print and electronic media, books and pamphlets, songs and poems, slogans, graffiti, murals, posters, movies and videos. In this correlation between the texts and images we can even say that the visual representations of the radical Palestinian Islamic movements have a central position
equal to the textual narratives. The description an analysis of this controversial new but important relationship will be in the center of my paper.

Attila Kovács graduated from the Masaryk University in Brno in religious studies, history and Hungarian language and literature. During his studies he spends a year at ELTE in Budapest (1993-1994) and the Jordanian University in Amman (1997-1998). He completed his doctoral studies at Comenius University in Bratislava, where he also habilitated in 2011. He lectures at universities in Bratislava and Brno and published numerous texts on Islam.

 

Marek Čejka
Peace Activism of Religious Jews and Media

There are many stereotypes about activists and other civic players of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One of them is a role of the religious Jews. Haredi (ultraorthodox) Jews are usually covered in mainstream media as either “romanticized“ or a closed fundamentalist community interested only in their religion and benefits. Religious orthodox settlers are described sometimes even worse as ruthless occupiers and militant fundamentalists. However, the Jewish religious community is much more structured. The presentation will be focused on contemporary Jewish religious pro-peace groups and the media coverage of their activities. The paper will survey especially pro-Palestinian activists of anti-Zionist Haredi group Neturei Karta, peace group Rabbis for Human rights, and religious settlers’ movement Eretz Shalom.

Marek Čejka studied law and political science at the Masaryk University, Brno. He worked at the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic and now lectures (among others) at the Masaryk University, Brno and Charles University, Prague and works at the Institute of International Relations, Prague. He is an author of several articles and books on Middle east. Marek Čejka provides blog about the Middle East (http://blizky-vychod.blogspot.com/)

Eva Nováková

In her presentation Eva Nováková will discuss the Palestinian peaceful popular struggle and its international support, namely the International Solidarity Movement and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign active directly in the Occupied Territories and Gaza but also worldwide.

Eva Nováková worked in the Occupied Palestinian Territory of East Jerusalem and the West Bank between March 2009 and January 2010, as a part of the International Solidarity Movement. She collaborated on publishing of a report about the colonisation of East Jerusalem and was active in the media section of ISM. She was illegally arrested in Ramallah and deported to Prague. She organises solidarity demonstrations, public lectures, and cultural events to raise awareness about Palestine in the Czech Republic.


Yonatan Shapira

Non-active Israel Air Force pilot who authored the "pilots' letter" of 2003, signed by 27 IAF pilots who said they would refuse to fly over the occupied territories. He is also co-founder of movement “Combatants for Peace”. Combatants for Peace is a Bi-national movement of Israelis and Palestinians who lead a non-violent struggle against the occupation.

Shireen Al-Araj
The Role of Art in Non-violent Resistence

Shireen Al-Araj will speak of the importance of the non-violent protest/resistance in the context of the struggle against the apartheid wall and the planned enclosure of al-Walaja village. She maintains that art and creative thinking can make the protests atractive for the media and therefore efective. Otherwise, it is solely violence that that attracts the media attention. In order for the peaceful resistance to succeed, it needs art and creative thinking.  

Shireen Al-Araj is one of the leaders of Popular Committee Against the Wall and an activist, protesting against the apartheid wall and enclosure of her village of al-Walaja located between Beit Jala and Jerusalem. Recently, Israel has started to construct a portion of the separation wall on al-Walaja's land. The wall will completely surround the village leaving only one entrance to be controlled by an Israeli military checkpoint.


Eszter Lazár, Zoltán Kékesi

Embedded Narratives. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in two Projects by Róza El-Hassan and László Gergely

The presentation concerns two art projects addressing the representation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Eastern European art and the relationship of art and activism in connection to the conflict. The first project is an exhibition of Róza El-Hassan, a Hungarian artist of part Syrian origin, featuring an installation built up of protest signs made by Hungarian-Israeli activist Toma Sík whose activity was connected to a search for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to the implementation a social utopia in Hungary. The second one –Yad Hanna – The Collective Man, is a project by the artist collective Technika Schweiz (László Gergely & Péter Rákosi) dealing with the history of the Yad Hanna kibbutz, founded by Hungarian communist Zionists in 1950. The project reflects the (micro-)history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict without reproducing biased representations prevalent in the international discourse of the 2000s.

Zoltán Kékesi is lecturer at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest and research fellow at the Eötvös-Loránd-University. He published a book on Holocaust Memory in Contemporary Art. His recent publications include: Repeating Skid: The (Production) Line and the blind, blind Curve (of Life), in Hajnal Németh: Crash – Passive Interview, exhibition catalogue, Hungarian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale; The Trap of Memory: The »Treblinka-song« in Claude Lanzmann's Shoah; and The Re-configured Archive: The Afterlife of Images in Harun Farocki’s Respite

Eszter Lazáris a PhD candidate at the Cultural Studies Program in the University of Pécs. She has worked as a curator at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts and as an assistant lecturer in the Theory of Fine Arts Department. She is a board member of the Labor (a joint initiative of C³ Centre for Culture & Communication Foundation, the Studio of Young Artists Association and the Hungarian University of Fine Arts. She curated several national and international projects.

Volker März

The presentation of Volker März, a German non-Jewish artist (as he puts it), shows his ongoing project based on using and abusing the figures of Franz Kafka and the monkey Mr. Rotpeter as a key to enter and to criticize the Israeli society and to break some of its taboos. "When I started,“ says the artist, “I had no idea about the ending ... it started with love and curiosity - and it ends up with rage ... it was a process created by my experiences and by travelling all around the country and talking to the different people who live there and in Palestine. So I learned a lot about silence, blindness, egoism, racism, and sexual pressure ... and it gave me an important, or maybe the first answer about the time in Germany 1939-45, when people could not realize what was going on.”

 

Volker März lives and works in Berlin. He had solo exhibitions across Europe since 1995, published more than ten books, and participated in numerous group shows. März is a multi-disciplinary artist working as a sculptor, painter, photographer, writer, filmmaker, performer and musician. He realized several projects dedicated to European philosophers and thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Giordano Bruno, Martin Heidegger, Heinrich von Kleist, Marquis de Sade, George Bataille, Peter Sloterdijk, Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin, Hans Henny Jahnn, Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, and Hannah Arendt.

Damir Nikšić
Activist art and the Ministry of Culture

Bosnia and Herzegovina has 121 ministers due to a very complex model of the state. Yet at the same time, there is no minister of culture and education because there is no Ministry of Culture and Education of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The presentation poses several intertwined questions: How can a Ministry of Culture and Education resolve ethnic conflict within the state? What is the role of a Ministry of Culture in such a state? The self-proclaimed MINI STAR of culture thinks it should be dealing with racism, hate language, prejudice, stereotypes, and segregation in order to integrate various groups into a cosmopolitan, open, free, and civil society.

Damir Nikšić was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He studied at Brera, Milan, Academy of Fine Arts, Bologna, and Academy of Fine Arts, Sarajevo. In 2003, he exhibited at the 50th Venice Biennial, International section Interludes curated by Francesco Bonami. In 2004, he graduated in Art History and Fine Art (New Genre) at the University of Arizona, Tucson. In the Academic year 2005-06 worked as visiting professor at the Northwestern University, Evanston, USA. Currently he lives and works in Stockholm. His topic is World Identity and the European “Nation of Islam”.


Shlomi Yaffe
The Victim Motive in the Israeli Video Art

The Israeli society built its identity through the position of the victim and myth. This motive often used as a political tool to support the Israeli policy concerning the Israeli Arab conflicts. In this presentation Yaffe will show a collection of Israeli video art that concerns this motive and reflects the state of mind in the Israeli society.

Shlomi Yaffe was born in Tel Aviv, Israel. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design Bezalel, Jerusalem, and the Faculty of Fine Art, Brno. He lives and works in Prague, Czech Republic. Yaffe is holding an Arab-Jew identity; his works are characterized by the tension of integration and the question of coexistence in a multicultural society, they often concern anti-Semitism, islamophobia and xenophobia. 

Partners of the conference: 
European Cultural Foundation, Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, Goethe Institut, Balassiho institut, Instytut Polski, Representative Office of the Czech Republic in Ramallah, Slovenský inštitút v Prahe, SPZ Gallery, Velvyslanectví Kanady pro ČR v Praze, Magazín Q pořad České televize
Mediální partneři výstavy: Radio 1, Flash Art
DOX Prague, a.s