Art, Music & Culture

First meeting of experts on the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem

UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today opened the first meeting of a Committee of Experts on the Cultural Heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem, a site inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1981 by virtue of its outstanding cultural value. In his address, the Director-General welcomed the fact that it was now possible for the Organization to start working on the preparation of a “comprehensive proposal in a spirit of cooperation with all the concerned parties” for the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem, an issue that has been on the agenda of UNESCO’s governing bodies since 1967. The Committee of Experts numbers 12 internationally renowned architects, archeologists, curators, restorers, architectural historians and structural engineers with professional knowledge of the Old City of Jerusalem. 

East Jerusalem's Chehade Brothers Nominated for Music Award

Among this year’s nominees for a BBC Radio 3 Award for World Music is Palestinian group the Chehade Brothers. Rami and Farid Chehade, in their 20s, are originally from East Jerusalem. They have recently enjoyed success with their improvised approach to tarab (a musical style fusing various cultural elements), which they term “light popular tarab”. The result is a modern, smooth and gentle approach to a popular style of music. The Chehade Brothers have been nominated in for the Award for World Music in the “Middle East & North Africa” category. The other nominees in this category are Khaled from Algeria, Mercan Dede from Turkey and Souad Massi from Algeria. 

The Art of War

There is something about the art of war - not the methodology - but the art, that fascinates. People looking for a way of expressing the misery of warfare. It is, even if it deals directly with the topic of war, a way of escaping or, at the very least coping, with conflict. The real art of Gaza is on the streets, the art of resistance, the art of revolution and memory. Eóin Murray has fond memories of a trip to Derry for his Dads birthday in which they stood by Free Derry corner and were amazed by the amazing power of the house murals which surrounded them. There was a real sense that these murals expressed the fears and memories of the people and, in so doing, assisted them in their struggle for human and civil rights, for peace and for justice. 

All Boxed In: Interview with Palestinian-American artist Rajie Cook

Born in 1930, Palestinian-American artist Rajie Cook has had a very successful career in graphic design. The “Symbol Signs” that hang in airports internationally, communicating purely through icons rather than text, were designed by Cook and his design firm. He has been honored by President Reagan and the “Symbols Signs” project has been acquired into the Smithsonian’s collection. However, Cook is not done creating work that intends to communicate. Born in the United States to parents originally from Palestine, the violence and continued injustice that consume his homeland spurs him to make Joseph Cornell-inspired boxes that comment upon various aspects of the conflict. 

Film review: "Edward Said: The Last Interview"

Filmed within three days in 2002, just one year before his death at the age of 67, Edward Said: The Last Interview is a compelling portrait of a man who was not only a strong advocate of the Palestinian cause, but an accomplished teacher, literary critic, writer and musician. After living for more than ten years with a fatal strain of leukemia, which he was diagnosed with in 1991, Said refused interviews. However, former student D.D. Guttenplan along with director Mike Dibb convinced him otherwise. Jenny Gheith reviews the film for EI

Documentary film review: "Israeli Wall in Palestinian Lands"

The new documentary The Israeli Wall in Palestinian Land is a prime example of how low-cost digital technology has great potential for activists - with a small camcorder, and some decent video editing software, one can make a finished film that can be cheaply burned onto DVDs or put up on a website. Like cheap 35 mm, Polaroid, and disposable cameras democratized photography, video as a medium is now highly accessible. But whether one makes the most out of the medium is another matter. EI’s Arts, Music, and Culture Editor Maureen Clare Murphy reviews the new film for EI

Palestinian youth produce their own TV programme

The 2004 International Children’s Day of Broadcasting (ICDB) marks the second anniversary of Alli Sotak (Speak Up), a two hour weekly programme, which is created by and for Palestinian young people. The inspiration for starting a new programme for youth was born when the Palestinian National TV network realized that, amidst the gloomy circumstances and grim news headlines which children are exposed to , there was a great hunger for positive content. As a result, Palestine TV began to participate in the annual ICDB event in the year 2000, by sponsoring annual special programmes. 

Mahmoud Darwish wins Prince Claus Award

On Wednesday 1 December, this year’s Principal Prince Claus Award was presented to the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish at the Royal Palace. Darwish has been granted this award for his powerful and world-famous poetry that depicts his life as an exile and his desire for his native country. The award reflects the Fund’s new focus on the positive results of asylum and migration.The other nine laureates will be presented with their awards in their own countries. Since 1997 the Prince Claus Awards have been presented annually by the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development to artists, thinkers and cultural organisations that are mainly located in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. 

"The Pianist" of Palestine: Reflections on Israel's ubiquitous abuse

When I watched the Oscar-winning film The Pianist I had three distinct, uneasy reactions. I was not particularly impressed by the film, from a purely artistic angle; I was horrified by the film’s depiction of the dehumanization of Polish Jews and the impunity of the German occupiers; and I could not help but compare the Warsaw ghetto wall with Israel’s much more ominous wall caging 3.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza in fragmented, sprawling prisons. Many of the methods of collective and individual “punishment” meted out to Palestinian civilians at the hands of young, racist, often sadistic and ever impervious Israeli soldiers at the hundreds of checkpoints littering the occupied Palestinian territories are reminiscent of common Nazi practices against the Jews.