Thoughts outside the box – on politics and art

An artist from Ramallah shakes-up what we think on Palestinian Art and questions fixed identities.

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Majd Abdel Hamid. Picture by Samar Hazboun.

I did not imagine my expectations would be so turned over when going to Jerusalem in 2017 to research on Palestinian Art. Coming from Europe, I anticipated strongly engaged political works, repeating pictures from the media of soldiers, the wall, house destruction, or symbols from Palestine like the flag, the Dome of the Rock or the keys of return.

What a surprise then to hear harsh criticism from several local artists towards the repetitive use of such imagery. They desire to be recognized as international artists and not as activists for the Palestinian cause. This means topics do come from a local background, but can be seen larger, more global than only in the Palestinian context.

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From Tunisia to France – the course of a young dancer and choreographer

(c) Jean-Charles Bessonneau
Picture taken by Jean-Charles Bessonneau.

Hamdi Dridi could be out of a Hollywood film – from dancing hip-hop and breakdance in the streets of Tunis, to studying dance at French universities, to starting a career as a dancer and choreographer. His path is not set yet, but his strong will makes him continuously move on.

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Life as a young musician in Paris – Gaétan Nonchalant

Smoking and talking with Gaétan Vandenbussche.

Gaétan Vandenbussche, 24, lives in a tiny studio of 19m2, 6th floor, no elevator, in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. A sofa-bed, a desk, and guitars fill the space. You find posters of the Canadian singer Mac Demarco, Pink Floyd and The Beatles on the wall and on a podium stands a vinyl player with dozens of old and new records lining up against the wall.

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A view on immigration through theatre

The one man-show “Welcome? Is the stranger welcome in France?” by Céline Mainguy surprises with deep research, presenting itself more like a documentary. The comedian went on the ground for a direct contact with newly arrived immigrants, as well as with people from the French administration or detention centre guards.

With her neutral approach, she jumps easily into each role. At the end, the spectator leaves the play full of questions of what is right or wrong.

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Portrait of Céline Mainguy taken by Marie Clauzade.

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La Parade Métèque – a parade to celebrate cultural diversity

Four hundred to 500 people walk the colourful and joyful ‘Parade Métèque’, the 5th of May in Montpellier.

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The word ‘Métèque’ means the foreigner. Over the years, it got a bad connotation in France,” says Fanny Enjalbert, co-president of the association ADEMASS who organises the parade. “We want to bring positive connections to this word through this event.”

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Give people space and they will create – Institute for (X)

In Aarhus, Denmark, you might happen to stumble across a wild area, spreading out along abandoned railways – a no-men’s land in the middle of the city, now full of colourful containers.

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The first reaction I heard was: this is a place of are modern hippies. But when you get closer, you realize it is not as wild as supposed. The buildings are neat, beautifully built and painted. There are constantly people walking around with construction material, busily improving the area. By the time I arrived, a ‘Yucht’ Mongolian round tent-house, had appeared, the playground was finished, new containers arrived and new spaces were under construction.

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The Performing Arts Platform – about the importance of connections and diversity

Since I moved from Jerusalem to Aarhus 6 months ago, I have been amazed about the quantity of spaces and organisations that invite you to make connections between very different people. Co-habitation, co-working spaces or co-creation places try to break isolated bubbles – like locals versus foreigners, businesses versus culture, politics versus citizens. One of the organisations here that most impressed me is called ‘The Performing Arts Platform’ (PAP).

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When you open its doors, you find an almost motherly attitude towards local artists or any new actor, dancer, performer in the city. If you need a helping hand to integrate to Danish society, you are at the right place. Speak with Charlotte for 10 minutes and she already has five people in mind to whom she could refer you to.

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