arshia azmat

My people shall be free

2018—exhibition prototype

“My people shall be free” is an exhibition prototype surrounding Leila Khaled, a Palestinian revolutionary who is known for having hijacked two planes. She is perceived as a hero on the Palestinian side and a terrorist on the Israeli side. Her story really brings forward the question of subjective narration : how do we tell the same story on the two sides of the wall? How does it influence the people on each side, but also our occidental vision? When do the stories cross, when do they grow apart? How can we find the intersection between the subjective and the objective?

Leila is also interesting because her choices were as radical as they were desperate: anything is good to make international eyes face the suffering of the Palestinian. What pushed her to make this choice? The more we learn about Khaled, the more we realise that her story resonated with a whole portion of Palestinians who were sent away from their homeland during their childhood.

This project is based on two devices: a fence and a book. The fence is an attempt to show the physical barrier separating the two halves of the conflict. Moreover, it creates two distinct physical spaces where we can explore each narration. The area of each space is related to the division of the territory over the years. On the fence, different fake newspaper front pages are disposed, relating important historical events. 

Besides the fence, there is also a book. It is a docu-fiction that tries to retrace the life of Leila. It is heavily based on her autobiography, put besides historical documents. This object builds a closer and more intimate relationship, while the fence puts us at a distance. Even though both of these devices can exist on their own, they complement each other.

I want this project to grow as to become a tool for permanent education, about subjective narration or about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Through this project, we can talk about the conflict, but also the borders, walls, annexion, …

Besides, the fence projecting the wall between the two sides of the conflict being transportable makes it possible for the project to take place in different public spaces. The exhibit can be nomad, and exist in museums, in the heart of a city, in a park, …