The creators of the short film Between a Garden and the Sea talk about Israel’s demarcation, the situation for artists in Palestine and the political function of art
mokant.at: Ariane, as a Half-Iranian, did you have any bad experiences?
Laurin: Yes. But if I am kept in a derogatory for two hours, it’s nothing compared to people that have to go through this every day – or that cannot cross at all. At the end of the day I have a Canadian passport. That’s also part of the message. It sounds super cheesy: the value of freedom; the value of smelling the sea.
mokant.at: What are the working conditions for Palestinian artists in Israel?
Laurin: A lot of the Palestinian art in the West Bank is actually financed by the European Union. They are given a lot of freedom in that regard. It is trickier for Palestinians living within the Israeli territories like East Jerusalem. They have to accept that whatever they do will be controlled by Israeli institutions. The Palestinian art is way more political than the Israeli art – they feel a responsibility to preserve the heritage of their culture.
mokant.at: Is there the possibility of artistic education for Palestinians in Palestine?
Simard: Yes, of course. There are a lot of universities in Palestine. But one has to go through many challenges and obstacles. There are more limits and controls than in most of Western societies.
mokant.at: How are they controlled?
Simard: There is no real censorship but there are obstacles, like where you can be, which books you have access to. The only theater, the national Palestinian theater, has been threatened to be closed down many times, the last time only a few months back. They managed to stay open, but the Israeli army often comes to close the doors of the theater for evenings they don’t like.
Laurin: There is always a threat. If someone gets shot, it’s three days of mourning. Then everything stops. With exhibits, films, artistic events, you never have the certainty that it goes through. Life is so chaotic and hectic. It is more about instability than censorship.
mokant.at: Could you show your film in Israeli territory?
Simard: Yes, we could. But there are a lot of places that would probably not accept it. Presenting such subjects often creates a lot of debate and scandal.
Laurin: We will present the film in mixed institutions in Israel. In places like Jerusalem, Haifa, where there is a big Palestinian community.
mokant.at: Did your trips to Israel influence your artistic approach?
Simard: It has an impact on everything in my life right now. I have been spending about half my time in Palestine for many years now. It’s not everything, but the way I see things has been influenced by it a lot.
Laurin: On a human level it really tests the limits of your humanity. In Israel you are always forced to position yourself. It is impossible to go there with the aim of being neutral.
mokant.at: Is your movie an attempt to be neutral?
Simard and Laurin: No!
Simard: That would be completely hypocritical to say.
Laurin: It is an attempt to find a position without losing your sense of humanity.
Cover photo: (c) Lukas Unger
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