Perspectives from Palestine
I struggle to reconcile the double vision I have of Israel. One of my mind’s eyes sees the struggle of the Jewish diaspora under the mallet of Nazi Germany. I see the red dress in Schindler’s List and Anne Frank’s old dark eyes. With the other, I see the conflict of Palestine: children being forced into military jeeps, Palestinian homes being bulldozed, people living as caged birds, and a long snaking wall that divides more than land.
To be in Palestine is to walk inside two visions: that of Zionists seeking a place to come home to, the other of Palestinians seeking to keep olive trees and stones they can call their own, their pasts, presents, and futures seeming to run along parallel tracks. As I compile this exhibition, I draw together two other visions; my own perspective as a son of the American South, where a well-known Black and white double vision still exists. And the other the vision of young Palestinians who have grown up with a narrative I can never fully know. In 2013, I spent three weeks holding photography workshops within this community. I taught and photographed across the West Bank and within East Jerusalem. Some of these students’ best images, videos, and stories are shared here. The Looking In section is my work; the Looking Out section is their work.
Double vision is also a malady. To suffer from it means to be off kilter, very uncomfortable, not right. This region of the world is out of kilter, and the world knows it. How to reconcile all these double visions? The answer must be found in the stories. (Stories in this part of the world are as numerous as the rocks found there. You will see visual reference to them in many of these images.) Research shows that the narratives we are told shape our actions. Artist cannot stop bullets or tear down walls, but they can change history by being pre-actionary, creating new narratives that in time shape new actions. Art is one of the few venues that can also recognize and present the conflicting narratives and wrestle with all the truths, not hiding from one half or the other, living fully in the paradox. In the end, art gives us a new world, and the tools by which to see it clearly.
-- Todd Drake