This is a little known story begun a few months ago targeting people with connections to businesses that do business with Israel. A blogger by the name of Ilan was at one of the protests at the Whitney Museum.
One reply on youtube: “Hmmm …..That sure seemed like fascist behavior to me , a group of people all speaking in unison to shut down and oppress 1 guy . If I didn’t know any better I would think I was watching a video of young Nazis .”
This is part of a scary anti-Semitic plot where Arabs are targeting prominent pro-Israel US Jews by stirring up leftist mobs against them on trumped-up charges. In the video you can see Amin Husain, the lead agitator against a Whitney Museum trustee, attack a journalist here. Notice how he accosts the journalist and then lies about it to the museum guards. His co-leader admits that the “sin” of the Jewish trustee is “profiteering from Zionism,” and Amin Husain bragged to the NY Times that pressuring him to resign was a victory for BDS, even though the trustee is an American Jew. Here’s another scary video of Amin Husain in action:
Immediately after his successful campaign, Husein returned to Ramallah to brag about it in a speech in Arabic. He is a darling of the media despite his justification of terrorism. Now with this initial success of forcing the removal of this person from the Whitney Museum board, they are proposing hit lists to target other US Jews, including Simon Falic who the AP wrote a hit piece on here.
Kanders, the Whitney Board Member, is a modern-day Dreyfus affair, in which an Arab from Ramallah whipped up a Leftist mob against a prominent pro-Israel US Jew on ridiculous trumped-up charges, and then told the NY Times that it was a “victory for BDS.” Here are the five best links on the topic:
Amin Husain spoke in Ramallah about this whole new project to take down US Jews. The FB live video of the event in Arabic is here
Here is the English translation. It is Shocking:
Decolonize This Place – Ramallah Event
What’s happening is a kind of “After the revolution win”
I mean, this meaning Can you understand? “Thawrah” means revolution, post-revolution.
We are holding this meeting with Amin Husain, and now I will tell you who Amin Husain is.
He will also tell us who he is.
And we are holding this meeting after the resignation of , what’ his first name? Warren Kanders, who is one of the board members of Whitney Museum. So, this meeting is probably a good opportunity to understand the movements and actions that took place in New York in the shade of…. [need clarification]
In the shade of, or within Dahani Whitney, who is working now.
And we are utilizing this meeting not only to discuss what happens in the US but also to understand it here in Palestine and the role of artists to utilize these very political time in order to try to understand the artistic role of cultural organizations in order to not be a place that covers the real face of politics that contradicts our own understanding of Art.
Today we are welcoming Amin Husain for the second time this year. Amin Husain.
Amin is a member of a group called “Decolonize This Place” which is well-known in English as “Decolonize This place” – Which is a part of bigger group that’s called MTL. And inside this big group there are people and individuals who are trying to work together on directing artistic projects to crucial political questions that are needed to liberate it from imperialism and intellectual colonizing. It is good to use these words again, you know . Amin also works with Natash Denin. She is not here with us physically, but she is here with us in spirit.
So, I will give the mic to Amin in order to open the discussion with you.Go ahead, Amin.
Thank you. I will start following the sequence of action that preceded the resignation of Warren Kanders and the discussions, and the questions around this, and why I believe that this event is important to the organizations that work in Ramallah.
Because we are under occupation and why these questions are important to a center place like Alsakakeeni org . Specifically for the valuable name of Sakaakeeni and the Qattan as well. And what is the influence of these things on the Art and the role of artists in the freedom movements in order to make our situation better. I mean our situation as individuals.
When we are talking about “Decolonizing This place”, we are talking about a group that’s part of more than 50 groups in New York and we have connections with the Zabazestas – the black flag, and we have groups from Puerto Rico.
We started our activity in 2016. Or to be more clear, we started in 2011 in parallel with the beginning of the Arabic revolutions (Arab Spring) And how can we can see a place for art and culture within all of this. Not only as people who receive money to do art but also to use these places to be part of what’s happening and go beyond the walls of museums and galleries and these places.
In 2016, Decolonize This Place spoke with us and said we want you to create this show in a place that’s called Ijas palace. It is a well-known place on an area like this. They gave us $60,000 as a budget for 3 months. We told them we are going to take the money and the place but we will not create a show – but we will do something else. We will think about how to make this a place to support what people are doing in their streets and neighbourhoods and we will think how to connect things together so the art and artists will part of a larger space, a space for freedom.
We know this very well. When we mention some names like Ghasan Kanafani , we understand how the artist can be part of the reality. But this of course had changed under the rule of the PA.
I have utilized those 3 months to create a wider base, and this is briefly what “Decolonize this place” is all about: Organizing this movement was basically revolving over an important triangle
in order to not work exclusively with “White People” so that things will not revolve only around their Europian mindset.
We believe that the triangle of liberating the Native people, liberating the Blacks of New York and liberating Palestine can dethrone the Imperialism as we believe.
In New York, not here. So we worked with the groups that hold this belief – this is briefly “Decolonize This Place.” Now, what happened is that Forbes Magazine talks about people who have tons of money and in 2018, if you have this page, you can see the person on the right side, this is person is called Warren Kanders.
Warren Kanders made his money though founding a firm that’s called Safariland. Safariland is the firm that produces the tear gas that they use here. And it is the same tear gas that they used in Egypt. And it is the same tear gas that they used in Bahrain. And it is the same tear gas that they used in Puerto Rico and Firgishon. So we noticed that this is an important issue.
There is also another magazine that’s called Hyperallergic which writes about art and culture in New York. It’s a blog. This blog wrote that this person [Mr. Kanders] doesn’t only own the biggest factory that produces tear gas, but he also owns a factory that produces rubber bullets that make holes in the body. And that the Israelis use against the Palestinian youth in Gaza by targeting their knees.
This is his business. Hyperallergic published a study said that this person is actually the vice chairman of Whitney Museum. This means that we became involved in this issue because this person has a firm which produces stuff that kill us and kill our beloved ones.
And it happens that the Whitney Museum is showing is holding a Biennial Exhibit that includes Native people, Blacks and other freedom movements in a way that connects art and politics.
We knew this and we knew their money comes from and how they got their reputation. And the exhibit [which started as an Annual] is one of the oldest in the world, having started in the Thirties. And we knew all of this, so the first thing we did is that we published on our Instagram (because we are mainly active in social media on Instagram, not on FB.)
And we wrote there that we are threatening and warning the Whitney [Museum]. We told them that you have to force this person to resign, otherwise you will force us to take some actions.
We also told the artists that you have pay attention to this and we will not take action by ourselves without you. Nobody responded to us. So we asked people to be in front of the museum on the 9th of December.
And we held big amounts of Maramiyyah (leaves) with big sizes and we burned it in the Museum as a way of cleansing that place. But we know what we were doing because the Natives use these things.
The other thing is that there were smoke, a good smoke, but it is similar to the tear gas -and that was the idea. And the third thing: this smoke went up for 7 floors, which caused them to have to worry about their insurance.
Each piece of art at the Whitney costs more than $1 million. So they will have to care about this, otherwise they will need their insurance. Then the fire department arrived, the museum was closed and nobody was arrested. We all know that the museums care a lot about their reputation as places that respect disagreements. So they have to respect the fact that we disagree with them – we knew that this is what would happen.
Right after this, there was a lot of chaos: how can’t you respect the art and an art of a museum like the Whitney? It is true that the Whitney has problematic things, but who doesn’t have problematic things? And ultimately, how can they find funds if they don’t take from rich people? These are very important questions to the Sakakeeni centre and to all of us. Because this created a lot of problems between artists since some think that we ruined it for them.
This was in December, so we thought we should call for a big meeting for the entire city, and invite the artists and the ones who work for Whitney for a long discussion because ultimately there is something called legitimacy.
What is legitimacy in Arabic? Everything we must do must be legitimate. So we said this is the best thing. And we were ready; 300 people arrived but we were all mad and frustrated. The other artists were mad as well and the legitimacy here is with those who are demonstrating against using the tear gas against them, about 35 groups. And this was the coalition.
What’s coalition in Arabic? This was the coalition that we made. But in order to pressure them we made a poster. We wrote all these things in this poster. If you notice in the poster how we put the Whitney on top of the posters. We distributed all these posters and all these movements that are demonstrating against the Whitney – Standing Rap -are getting out of it, including the movement of the Natives in 2016, and Tijuana which is on the American Mexican borders, where tear gas was used against the refugees from Guatemala to New York. Police use tear gas and other products from the same firm. Farkason, Palestine, and also the jails where tear gas is being used a lot, Egypt, Turkey,… I am talking about the same type of tear gas. If you took any tear gas bottle you will find Safariland written there, and this is the way he makes money. So he makes money from tear gas, then he puts the money in the Whitney.
We utilized those separate groups in order to add pressure on them in one place which is the museums and demonstrated for 9 weeks, each week for one group. This was a constructive process. And you can read how it’s written “ the Museum was liberated for a few hours “
Imagine! This was without paying the 25 dollars! And we had masked people. They were masked for a reason which is taking pictures. And there were people who didn’t have visas. And there were a lot of Black workers there. Those people who struggle and they are not getting paid well.
So this was to add pressure on rich people without causing hate. This will also show you that we were singing, we were taking pictures all the time there and if you looked up the Whitney Museum and Warren Kanders ,you will see how the NYT and NYP and other journals covered this issue.
And this raises an important question: why these museums and cultural centers are highly interested in publishing tiny things in the media, but when you a demonstration of half a million people they don’t cover it? This is an important question.
Ok, we held those 9 weeks of demonstrations and we spoke about the diversity of tactics and strategy. Usually the artists are the ones who think they have the power of boycott. Boycotting the centre of the museum by taking out their pieces from there. But we didn’t want to get ourselves into this argument: should they boycott or not?
We said that each one should do what he is comfortable with. He shouldn’t get to the point of not finding what to eat. There is an example of this famous artists Alexandaria Bill, who is at the Whitney now. She became famous after the case of Mike Brown, who was killed by the police and was left for 4 hours and a half. He was a poor Black 17-year-old kid who was about to go to university. Why did they leave him after shooting him? To make him as an example since he was afraid.
She became famous after she took his photos and spread them in Brooklyn. And she was invited to exhibit them at the Whitney. So you, Alexandria, are there at the Whitney that is funded by the one who produced the tear gas that was used in the demonstrations in Figasin where this kid was shot!
There is a huge gap between your political activity for that kid, and you pretending to be blind! And this a major problem for all artists because their issues are in a big mess now. We didn’t say bad things about them, but those artists have a problem. You shouldn’t have to be Black in order to show solidarity with Blacks who are being killed! There is this phrase: “Not all my skin folk, are kin folk “
Which means that not everyone who shares the same colour as me is part of my family or my group.
So it has to do with the politics of identity. And so Palestinians, they don’t know anything about what’s going on there nor about what we are doing.
So this was the discussion and we never stopped working. We didn’t bash anyone. We just told them you work and we will work, and during the last week there was the opening of the Whitney Biennial.
We were about 500 people in that opening,and we spent about an hour there but there was a small group of people who knew where Warren Kanders lives, and we went to his house, which has 3 floors like this and costs about $20 million. And on the way to his house we were distributing info about the place he lives because we don’t want him to feel safe.
We told him clearly: you will not feel safe as long as our people don’t feel safe.
Eventually the demonstration had finished and media covered everything. You can see this clearly here. But 10 days ago, the artist Hannah Black and 2 other artists wrote a manifesto and it was a problem because we couldn’t force them to leave the museum, demonstrate under the heat of the sun, because they said “We finally got an opportunity to be in the museum, so all of a sudden you want us to leave?”
But some people from this group left the museum. And they were not Blacks, they were White. But in fact they were restricted. If they left by themselves then this would be interpreted as an action to draw the media’s attention. The moment media writes about you then you became important, and this is what was happening.
So, right after the manifesto was written 4 artists left. But how did they leave? They didn’t leave as a group, they had an email, and Nichol Isinmen was the first one to leave. She said that “I have conscience and I am not ok with what I saw over the last 7 months, the museum didn’t do anything against this so I will leave. “
Then 3 artists left after she sent an email, then the next day 3 more artists left and we spoke with Forensic Architecture here, who had made a movie about Safariland and Warren Kanders. And we told them “This is the right time to leave if you want to leave. 8 are better than 7 to show action.”
The last point is that, as I imagine, the Board of Directors met because this is their responsibility to protect the organization. And they felt the seriousness of this problem when 8 artists left the museum, so what will people see on the walls of the museum? People come specifically to see things. And it’s possible that more people may leave as well. And we were going to occupy the museum by the end of the show. So people at the top administration of the museum said we have to protect this euseum by kicking him out.
So why didn’t they do this from the beginning? Because they are afraid of the unity of the artists, that they are going to do this every time. But now things changed. And we know that Warren Kanders wasn’t satisfied at all with his decision of resigning. And the proof is that he invested $10 million in this museum – let him give us this money (the other guy said). And that’s it, this is the idea in brief.
Thank you Amin, and we want to utilize this story that ended by the resignation of Warren Kanders to open a discussion about the role of the artists to question the institutes and hold them accountable regarding their funds and their work. And I want us to talk about the implementation of the “Decolonize This Place “and their work in the US, in the Palestinianian struggle.
The other issue I want to raise here is the real role of the Palestinians artists, especially that they live in place that is filled with politics. So the question is: Are we just productive? Or are we part of political movements? I am with whom and against whom? So, I am just wondering if there are questions, answers, comments on these issues.
I am just wondering if the artists who left the museum returned after he resigned? Can you elaborate this please. Yes they came back right after this, they spoke with each other and decided to go back to the museum because they were concerned for the other artists. This is a problem, the other problem was there was no unity between the artists. But we demanded 2 things: him resigning before we talk about anything else, and the other demand was to raise the issue of the wages in this museum, and how the reputation of this museum affects the reputation of the artists. It was a long discussion about these issues. Also, to engage us with other groups to discuss this issue of the funding and how the role of this museum can be different.
This is the responsibility of those artists. We are going to issue a statement on Monday of which we are going to declare the agreement between all groups to hold a huge meeting for all to discuss the issues after Kanders’ resignation. I am thinking sometimes how the artists may risk their art. Sometimes the work is revolutionary, radical, could spread awareness, but the artist himself may look like a coward while his work does not. In a way, he will look like someone who hides behind his work.
So here I think the artist must back his work and support his ideas because this gives the work more radicalism. You as an artist you have to be radical in order to show the radicalism of our work. I recall a lecture by Sami AlKhteeb. He spoke about the relationship between critique, and being critical. I see that we have friends from Bethlehem here. But anyway, what I want to raise here is the issue of how criticism may be used for business. The more your work follows a specific agenda or promotes a specific policy, the more it will bring money for the artists.
And Palestine is one of those places that produces such works that follow a specific agenda for the sake of business interests. So here the role of the critique comes, because this is the moment of unification between the artists and his work. So here you demand the artist to be genuine in his critique. The artist cannot twist or hide his real agenda or what he wants to show in his work.
It’s true, but this should be done indirectly because we don’t want to create problems among each other. Let’s take this example, Michael Rackots said when he arrived to the show:” I gave it some deep thought and honestly I don’t know what kind of work I should paint in order to represent this issue in an effective manner”. This was Michael Rakots, but the other artists who accepted the offer – who were 75 – were disappointed from Michael.
Michael took a personal decision that he cannot do something that represents this issue, so they were all disappointed. Not to mention that they were accusing each other by asking each other “ why didn’t you leave? “ and so on. So it was a frustrating moment. So this is an important issue, where is the limit? If you look at art from a practical lens then you will see how problematic it is. It is very important to know how the artists get their funds, and who supports the exhibitions? And who buys the products? We can ask tons of questions, so how and where can we put our limits? And sometimes each one of us asks himself : Does my work represent my agenda? Is it enough to show this?
For example, does Ghassan Kanafani need to be radical like his texts? Can the text be radical while the artists less radical? So how should the connection be between the artists and his work? And should the artist asks himself this question all the time? Sometimes the artist is just waiting for an opportunity to show his work, but if he kept thinking about this question he may not even show his work to anyone.
The peaceful intentions were very important in our work, because there were variety of topics, the time helped us, the atmosphere, the type of people who were involved, the topic of the tear gas. Furthermore, we knew that some of the artists won’t leave the show, and this is something good because these are the diversity of tactics. But we all agreed on one thing: this person, Kanders, shouldn’t be on the Board of Directors for so many reasons. This person decided the way money is distributed. He gave some artists but he didn’t give others. So what is the type of art that the Whitney Museum appreciates?
When I know that this is the type of art that the market needs then you should paint. When you know that this is what’s needed in Abu Dhabi, or Dubai, then you will paint because you need to sell and afford your life. But what we told all the artists since the beginning: you shouldn’t all leave! So don’t make things difficult on yourselves. We just demanded them to try to make a connection between their work and the current atmosphere.
Your work will draw people’s attention. And this is better than withdrawing or leaving the show, we are used to leaving the shows all the time.
So you were suggesting that the painting themselves will contribute in supporting the cases you were fighting for? (The other person said yes)
For instance you have Nichoal Isinman put up stickers so people would take these stickers from here and take things for free. This can support this cause for sure. You have something on the wall – fine. But how can you transform your idea from the wall to the reality?
Actually this reminds me of a story in one of the Certain Time Gallery in London. They figured out the CEO of the Certain Time Gallery, which is one of the most important galleries in London, has shares in an Israeli firm that’s called MSO which sells high tech products. There was an artist back then in that gallery who said that one of the technologies that this firm produces was used in the issue of murdering the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashikji .Hito Shtaira raised this issue and she pushed the CEO to resign. So apparently there is a role for artists here to uncover such people, specifically when it comes to the funds and money and how some people try to “cleanse or purify” their stances. The artist cannot work by himself. His coalitions with other people and activists will help him to raise the issues.
On the other hand, what you mentioned is not cleansing or purification, Sakakeeni cannot purify the situation, no museum can purify any situation. But the issue here is how wrong things shouldn’t pass normally without noise. When I create something about something wrong , the entire street knows about it. These places like museums do affect our lives. And we want these places to represent us, we want the Whitney to represent us as well. If Whitney is funded from somewhere else then so many things will be different. People from the rural areas will come to visit it, for instance. This is something we promote. Something else? Why aren’t you opening your doors for the refugees that the police are throwing to Mexico? You can make an exhibition about refugees, but you don’t want to open your doors to them!
Different speaker: I was trying to understand while you were talking if the museum is one of the reasons why Art became business. I am also objecting to what happened, because you think that his resignation is enough. What I see is that such museums are the real reasons behind such problems because they are making the art as business and it is highly connected with the market, this is not art, this is business. The problem wasn’t solved by kicking out this CEO, the approach of this museum created the problems so the problems didn’t end by his resignation. If we want to think about our situation here in Palestine, we have to check the funders, the PA, and the NGOs that facilitate the funds. There is a problem in each layer, and there are several agendas here.
We completely reject any money from Israel, but the agendas of the funders are not better than the Israeli agendas. They are worse. They put you in situation of which you cannot resist their money . I am trying to analyze things but I am so confused: how can I deal with funders, the facilitating NGOs, the foundations and their agendas?
Actually this is a crucial issue but there are other things to be taken into consideration. I am an artist but I am also doing other things, and I never took any commission in my life, so I am not tied to anyone. I chose to teach and this my job that helps me to afford the life, so I am not tied to anyone. I am also dealing with people who are like me, free people. This why think differently and we think everything should be different. I was also telling Yazan and I am sure he has many thoughts about it, which is how our NGOs can be different? This is the intriguing question. Why did this museum rely on Kanders’ money? Why don’t they make crowd funding? This art doesn’t address me, it addresses the market and the interests of the markets. This is a very important part for our thoughts.
In fact the art is changing based on the funds. When you get $10 million your art would completely different. We have to recognize the deep connection between the attitudes of cultural organizations and economics. This is a fact and we have to see it. For instance , if I kept taking grants from the USAID then I will know that I cannot even think about my liberty and freedom. You will be suspicious if you get funded from the USAID and claiming that you are a freedom fighter. But there is another issue that is challenging them, which is the difficulty of transforming their art to a commodity that you can sell. This is an important way to see the artistic behaviour.
There is another point here; which is that organizations are different. Khalil Alsakakeeni is better than other organizations. We can get to know each other inside this organization and we can do different things outside. There is something else, I work at NY University. My students take loans in order to afford it, so I am in a way a reason for them for not being free people. I must face this. When I face this I take responsibility. So I am asking them all the time why are you here? Simply because there is this commodication that is called a degree and you want to buy it, but you know that you are not going to find a job after, so you are just paying money and loans so you will be exploited. But I utilize the university in order to organize things, we can organize things in places that doesn’t cost money like Alsakakeeni Center. We can use the printing machines here to print our art for free.
And in this way we can steal from the university in order to do our things, eventually nobody is pure.
There are different ways to do what we want freely, but the most important thing is that I don’t affiliate with those who are using Palestine as a commodity, for instance. Why? Because we have mice on our ship. We have mice here as we have mice there in the Whitney. But we have to deal with them so they can change their agenda, not to fight them and get ourselves in civil war. So many people actually attacked us, btw. So many people on the social media told us: Why didn’t you leave? Why didn’t you issue statements? Are you really radicals? So this is expected.
I think we cannot use this strategy in Palestine. For instance, if there was an Israeli museum and asked Palestinians to show their work, I cannot show my work there and some stickers of “free Palestine “ next to them, we just cannot – I am assuming that they will allow you to show it! This will be considered as normalization. Let me ask you about something else: Let’s say that they allow you to show your art, and in this art you presented a radical work that’s against the occupation and against the existence of the entre Israel, and you put the stickers next to them saying “ free Palestine from the river to the sea”. I think in this case you have to boycott, otherwise you will be portrayed as a cooperative person who copes with this situation.
There is something else I want to raise here, which is the publicity of the boycotting. As a Palestinian artist I will show my work in an Israeli galleries, for instance, I saved the Israelis confronting the Palestinian case in their museums by doing this. But with Whitney, there is something special here. The pieces of art were shown there. Also the moment when Michael left was an important moment, but the most important thing here was that when you took the pieces of art after the show. I believe that this is a very painful moment. So this is an important moment because the artists showed explicitly their will to boycott, they were not hiding their boycott at all. So my question is how can we think about this thing in terms of the Palestinians issue?
Ok I got your point . I will say some things that may not please some people here, but we have to be honest and comfortable when we talk here. The first point is that there is privacy to each conflict and each freedom movement. I don’t say that you have to act in Israeli museum the same way we did in Whitney. What I’m saying is what is the relationship between our artists and our reality? For example, let’s say that you are part of AlQatan gallery – 33 seeds- which brings things from the British Mandate times, and each artist has a seed that he has to do his research about it. These seeds are very important to be shown, and without the money that you are gonna receive from Qattan you won’t do your research. So me as an artist I must ask myself this question: to what extent did this show from Qattan benefit my people? As artists we don’t ask ourselves this question. Another example: I teach at a college. This is not my duty, because my duty is to make statistics and politics from my art. Unfortunately, the duty of so many artists is just to sell art so they can have their own studios, then become famous then go to Whitney!
There is another point: Who founded the Museum of Palestine? Who funds it? How did they buy the land? Who built it? We are a people who are under occupation, and the idea behind the museums is originally colonizing others’ lands! So what is this museum doing? Let’s see what they have there: Their first show is about Palestinian traditional dresses. When I saw this I felt like I am in the American Museum for Natural History! Just go to the Beereh municipal hall and you will find a lot better things there. Then what about the clips that they put there? They cost tons of money and brochures and costs! Eventually what I want to say is that there are ethics and values for art under occupation. Because normalization happens from artistic things that we do. For instance there was a clip about the new liberalism, the PA is a new liberalism! You can see the new liberalism in Almasri Business group. So, implementing the art is not only for getting rid if Israel, we need to get rid of our own problems as well. This is the real role of artists here.
Yes, the most important question must be about funds. I think we started facing this problem since the beginnings of the nineties, when we started getting funds for our cultural organizations. And Alsakakeeni is one of the leading Palestinian NGOs that was transformed from a grassroots org to an NGO that relies on funds. And when funds are involved then it all becomes about economy, not culture. And the new liberalism transformed the cultural projects to economic ones. If there is money, there is culture. And this created a new phenomenon : the Palestinian intellectual who makes a living off of culture. So here you are an example of someone who is working at the NYU but you actually produce somewhere else. So in light of all these things, we should understand the mechanism and the outcome of these cultural places like Alsakakeeni, AlQattaan, and all the other cultural organizations in Palestine. We should understand the way it gets its funds. Probably the things are more clear when it comes to the American situation because they are honest with themselves and we are not. But how do you think we can break this cycle? How can we reach this moment of freedom from all of this? I think that the movements that take place outside the organizations themselves can help in breaking this cycle. But eventually we need funds, if there is no funds then there is no Sakakeeni org.
There is something I say all the time to my students, and we have to be honest with ourselves. I know a friend of mine who wanted to work for the UN because he wanted to do something good. Actually you are not doing something good by working there – this is something you will see after 2 years of working there -. You just need to be honest with yourself and just see it as a job., because this helps us a lot to be able to think differently. Zabatistaaz (The black flag) have a well-known saying: “ On no can open a million yesses”. Honesty is very important, so say no when you need to. I know some galleries that they don’t show any artistic things made by blacks, what did the blacks do? They insisted and showed their work in other places util they became famous. Then they sold their products and cooperated till they got their freedom from all the galleries. I know one thing: Work is something, and work for freedom is something else. Also we shouldn’t escape some facts from our reality like racism and other issues that we face in our reality. We should take responsibility and face them. When we wanted to open Daar Almaamon for instance, is addressing people from Aljalazon (refugee camp). How they can come here and we go there. Albeerah is a racist place, and people of Albeerah are racist. But the people of Beerah suffered a lot during the British Mandate in 1071, so there are traumas but we don’t know this because we don’t know each other. The social practice is very important here for helping this case. But unfortunately the social practice helps these days in kicking out Blacks from their houses and building other fancy high buildings instead. It is being used for gentrification.
The Arabic translation for gentrification is “istitbaaq.” But the art in general is being utilized or exploited by the superpowers in order to fulfil unjust policies and crush the lower classes.
[Comments at the end: blue – Yazam, black – Amin, old man, lady]
( Yazam) – I recall an incident in a poor german neighborhood “Freiden” and those poort people threw molotov cocktails on cultural centers but the people rejected this. We need to reject some kind of means of protest and keep others.
(Amin) – (1.06.22) – There is a place called “old heights” (ohel heights) and they have started having galleries there. They started throwing fake blood on them. Then he is explaining how the change of the money between the classes. You own a house, you sell it and rent a different house. The money is going from the lower class to the upper class. The upper class knows how to manipulate the system. Artists are instruments. They artists are being used – used for other agendas. We should learn how to work with them.
(Yazam) – We have to pay attention to where the money goes. Which political direction. We all have to pay attention to it.
(Female participant)- We as artists should think about the moment, the context in which our art is presented. This is how Oslo affected us. We have to think beyond the event itself, but also the future ramifications. If we focus in the moment, we can break the sterotypical way of seeing art in general.
[dealing with which mic to use] – (Older man) – Sometimes you need to be less strict with certain matters. You have to adapt to the circumstances and be less strict in order to achieve some purpose. And it isn’t only in art, but in politics as well. For example, we have to take money from people that are not loyal to the Palestinians. That’s what we have to do.
( Yazam) – I can connect to people that the organization cannot. Maybe I can make things better. It has to be “context specific.” This is the workers’ opportunity to look for different paths for funding.
(Yazam)-[ Joking about the cool weather and the summer. ] Thank you Amin for his contribution to the discussion. ONe of the flag is for Puerto Rico, because of their coup and they were at the Whitney, and 43 students disappeared, they went to ?? to work and never came back, and the other flag is the Zabajistas, also part of the protest.
We would love for you to join us on Tuesday. We have a lecture called “The Third Cinema”, and are showing a movie called “Tel al-Zaatar” [Which is the name of a massacre] that is going to be translated and it looks at a social uprising party.
This is also older stuff that was found, but tells you who we are dealing with. https://www.artscabinet.org/editorial/interview-nitasha-dhillon-and-amin-husain-mtl-collective
Eyal Weizman and Amin Husain go way back, and their connection to each other is all over BDS books and blogs going back to 2002.